Imagine the Internet of the future: a virtual universe enabled by AI, VR, AR, and all manner of innovations in the realm of sensory perception, remote control, and real-time virtual experience. This vision of the future—whether it be known as the “metaverse” or something else—promises a wealth of opportunities to do business, be entertained, be cared for and educated, and be connected with one another in an unimaginably vibrant and tactile form of cyberspace. But to make this future a reality, the infrastructure needs to be in place: data needs to be able to flow seamlessly, efficiently, and very fast.
Even today, all areas of business and private life rely heavily on digital applications. But there is no doubt that, in the future, the demands being made of digital infrastructure will intensify. Today’s digital applications may still offer an acceptable user experience with a delay (or latency) of no more than the blink of an eye (100 milliseconds), but certainly not a great one. Nowadays, to be considered great, user experience already requires 35 milliseconds latency or less, and with every innovation in virtual perception—visual, aural, and tactile—the latency-sensitivity of applications increases. For a seamless experience in the immersive and tactile virtual world of the future, low-millisecond latencies will be essential.
Much faster than the blink of an eye: creating a seamless experience
Why will tomorrow’s Internet be so much more latency-sensitive than today’s? Because of the nature of human perception. It takes the human brain as little as 20 milliseconds to perceive tactile information, 13 milliseconds to process visual cues, and even less, at less than a single millisecond, to perceive auditory delays. Therefore, creating a believable, authentic immersive environment will require replicating these speeds so that reactions and interactions can feel natural. Once this kind of technological breakthrough is achieved, undreamed-of applications will become possible.