Tactile Internet for Virtual Reality Interaction

December 2, 2018 - 3 min read

We live in a fast-growing wireless and technology dominant world which enables us to connect multiple devices to each other. The current happening step of technology is called the Internet of Things (IoT), which allows a communication between different devices and machines. For example, turning off the lights at home while at work - IoT makes it possible.

A large part of data that is sent around the world is the result of voice telephony, video streams, emails or text messages. Hence, the data traffic increases by time. A transport protocol that is widely used for communication in the Machine to Machine (M2M) and IoT context is the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT). That is because of its light weight, openness and clean/well structured specification. Therefore, the protocol takes usage where small code footprint is required or the network bandwidth is at a premium.

Nonetheless, the fast-growing technological innovations and services will place an increasing strain on cellular networks. This requires the world to continuously improve the quality of communication standards.

The Tactile Internet will change the way how humans communicate and interact with each other and their environment. Regarding this, the fifth generation (5G) of mobile communications systems will play an important role. It will provide an infrastructure for delivering physical tactile experience in real-time remotely, which might change almost every part of society and industry. The current state-of-the-art fourth generation (4G) of mobile communications systems and Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) cannot fully achieve the requirements for the Tactile Internet.

Virtual Reality (VR) systems can highly benefit from the features of the Tactile Internet, concerning its required reaction times for sensory and haptic controls. The round-trip latency needs to be very low, in order to prevent a so-called ”cyber-sickness”, which might occur for some people as a conflict between visual, vestibular and proprioceptive sensory systems. More precisely, it happens when the eyes perceive a movement with a slight delay, compared to what the vestibular system receives while the rest of the body remains static.

If you sit at home, playing with your Virtual Reality glass and you would like to communicate with your friend (playing a game) - it is not very comfortable with the current technology. Here comes the Tactile Internet: ultra-reliable and ultra-responsive network connectivity that enables the delivery of control and physical tactile experience in real time.

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is an intelligent architecture to programmatically control the traffic of networks. The idea is to move the proprietary software out of the network switch devices and slice the network planes into different planes. It allows you to remotely control the traffic using a logical software entity called ”SDN controller”.

SDN provides simple abstractions for describing the components, methods and protocol to communicate with the network switches via a secure channel. This also makes the controller suitable to perform network management functions for an easy modification of the network behavior, called Network Function Virtualization (NFV). Additionally, the devices themselves will not need to understand and process multiple protocol standards but merely accept instructions from a controller. After all, with Software Defined Networking you are able to quickly react to events in your network and ensure the Quality of Service (QoS).

Google uses SDN for its data centers to manage their enormous data traffic. A single data center of Google is capable of delivering more than 1 Petabit/sec of total bisection bandwidth(measured by bisecting the network into two halves).