In the near future, 5G technology is expected to open up many new opportunities for study and employment. In late May and early June, a summer course called 5G Hack The Mall was organised at Otaniemi campus. The aim was to get university and upper secondary school students interested in 5G technology and its applications.
The course programme consisted of short lectures and challenges implemented in groups over two weeks. The challenges were related to making A Block the world's first 5G shopping centre, offering new kinds of service experiences and real estate services.
It was the first time the potential of 5G was tested in a shopping centre. One of the people initiating the challenges was Marjo Kankaanranta, Shopping Centre Director at Sello.
"The challenge for shopping centres is to develop their services so that people will not only come there to shop, but to learn and have experiences", Kankaanranta explains.
With this in mind, students developed the Playground service concept. It is specifically aimed at young people, and shopping centres could use it to provide knowledge, experiences and tools for doing something good. The underlying idea is turning the shopping centre into a playground – a place where young people can come to learn, network and utilise the technology there, such as 5G and virtual reality.
"Playground would be a place where young people can find new friends, be creative and do something meaningful and useful, such as spreading information about combating climate change", says Aapo Karvonen, one of the students taking the course. With the mobile application developed for the concept, young people meeting at the shopping centre would be able to communicate outside Playground as well.
Playground also creates opportunities for businesses by providing a place and technology for interacting directly with young people. Representatives of the shopping centres also appreciated the social aspect:
"I particularly liked that, with the mobile app, you can extend the shopping centre experience outside the shopping centre. And then young people can return knowing who is going to be there. The shopping centre becomes a shared community space where you can come and go", says Heli Vainio, consultant at Nortecon.
"Right now, shopping centres lack personalisation and interaction. 5G technology could improve the personalisation of services if customers were able to provide their information to service providers. For example, in addition to providing medication, pharmacies could offer consultation, measurements and other services promoting wellness and health", says Nokia representative Veli-Pekka Luoma.
The two-credit course was produced in cooperation with Aalto University, University of Helsinki, University of Oulu, Nokia, Accenture, Ernst & Younging and Ericsson.