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Four reasons why Leuven could be a potential world leader thanks to the Tactile Internet

6 September 2017

5G, the next generation of wireless networks, offers speeds up to ten times higher than today’s 4G LTE. Full HD movies will be downloaded in less than a second. More importantly, 5G will be the foundation for the Tactile Internet; an internet with such a low latency, it will be able to transmit touch in real time.

What is the Tactile Internet?

The tactile internet is heralded as the next generation of internet technology, with reaction times in the order of milliseconds thanks to the capabilities of 5G. This equals the visual response time of humans, typically around 10 milliseconds. It will thus enable and drive applications that have much more human-like reactions and will combine extremely low latency with high availability, reliability, security and increased network capacity.

On Wednesday 4 October, Leuven MindGate Events and imec host a Visionary Seminar where some of the key enabling technologies for the tactile internet will be addressed.

One doesn’t need to be a fortune teller to see the vast potential for the Leuven MindGate ecosystem. The possibilities are endless. Next to the examples given, the Tactile Internet will support applications which have never even been thought of.

Tele-surgical operations

As shown in episode one of Het DNA Van Leuven, our ecosystem is no stranger to robotic solutions for surgeons, aiding them with accuracy and stability as well as video broadcasting to witness an operation from a distance. The Tactile Internet takes it a step further: surgical operations will no longer require the physical presence of the surgeon. They can be executed with the same accuracy and stability from anywhere in the world.

Even though the first tele-surgical operation dates back to 2001, the limitations of robotics and the underlying communications technology has somewhat halted its progress. The Tactile Internet completely kicks in that door.

Serious Games

Before you ask: yes, Serious Games are a thing. Even more, the gaming industry is starting to get a foothold in Leuven. Although the most famous example of Serious Games might be the US Military using serious games to train their troops.

VR is starting to play a big role in the gaming industry but the development of cutting edge applications has been limited by the high latency of the current internet (beginning to sound familiar, right?). The Tactile Internet will remove these limitations and open up greater opportunities in both recreational and non-entertainment gaming.


For the past few years, many representatives of the Leuven MindGate ecosystem have been banking heavily on SportsTech. Enter the Tactile Internet. The use of tele-robotic exoskeletons will allow athletes to learn proper form from coaches who find themselves on the other side of the planet. Imagine Usain Bolt teaching promising track athletes proper starting techniques, for example.

Sadly, injuries are part of the game. A good rehabilitation is vital for quick recovery and avoiding similar injuries in the future. The tele-robotic exoskeletons can be used for rehabilitation: "Does this movement limit your knee joint?" will no longer be a question asked by physiotherapists; they will be able to feel it.

Smart factories and remote industrial operations

The Tactile Internet will take the current state of smart factories even further. Next to manufacturing highly customized products, maintenance can easily be done as well. For example, if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you can ask your car-caring service provider to remotely diagnose and fix the problem through Tactile Internet. Telepresence in factories will also become widespread, giving the established manufacturers in the region a huge potential to keep on developing and improving the current technologies.

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How can we help?

The Leuven MindGate team is at your disposal for any questions about the Leuven Innovation Region. Do you want to invest, work or study in the region? We can help you find your way.

We also facilitate collaboration and innovation between companies, knowledge institutes and government within the Leuven Innovation Region, and we are happy to guide any of these stakeholders towards innovation.