I'm swinging in Manhattan, pulling my canvas against flagpoles, buildings and – inadvertently – a tree branch. I gain a little speed and altitude and start flying through the city.
It is certainly better to take the metro.
While this virtual world puts me in New York, I'm in Barcelona at MWC Wireless. I'm at the Intel booth, wearing an Oculus Rift and experiencing a virtual reality experience related to the upcoming Marvel and Sony movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home. Unfortunately, it was created specifically for people here at MWC.
It's not just a bit of marketing fluff – OK, it's pretty much it – but a demonstration of how a virtual reality game could work with a multiplayer component running on a 5G network. As I walk around the city, I meet another person in a second installation of the Oculus Rift at 3,800 feet at Nokia's booth.
The purpose of the demonstration is to illustrate the low latency of 5G, or real-time responsiveness that current 4G networks can not replicate. This is one of the countless demonstrations demonstrating the capabilities of 5G. The subject dominated the show as companies collapse trying to explain how next generation wireless technology will change your life.
Mini 5G networks
After a lot of hype, it takes shape at this show, with a number of companies that introduce 5G phones and install small networks in their stands.
Such was the case with this demo. Intel had configured the Oculus Rift and the PC and connected them to a radio that sends and receives data from the 5G base station suspended above the booth. Because the convention center does not allow these 5G test networks to extend beyond a booth, Nokia has established a physical fiber optic connection at Intel's booth.
Thus, the actual distance between the base station and the VR configuration is probably about 20 feet.
The 5G radio uses a higher 28 GHz frequency band, which is good for speeds, but bad for extended ranges. In this cabin, however, the distance mattered little.
The Spider-Man experiment was created by Sony and specifically designed for the show.
The game allows you to run or swing in the city in order to beat your opponent. You can press any button to jump, but you have to pull the trigger to trigger a band. Once the connection is established, you bring your hand back to engage the swing.
My first race was tough and I constantly came across walls or missed targets, falling to the street level. Getting an elevation again is a little tricky.
But I got familiar with the controls during my second run and I easily smoked the competition. I became more efficient at targeting where the Web was going to turn and how to stay the course, going from one side to the other.
Even though I was in the middle of the experiment, I was wondering if it would get old quickly, because the only real challenge was finding objects on which to attach your website and occasionally aiming for yellow objects like flagpoles to gain speed.
I cleared the course in about 3 minutes, which, according to an Intel representative, was one of the best times.
Peter Parker would be proud.
The story was published at 5 o'clock in the morning.