Vodafone 5G Duet

Vodafone powers world’s first 5G piano duet

Vodafone uses the power of its super-fast 5G to make two pianos in different places, play a duet in re

Vodafone and Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton have teamed up to showcase the potential of 5G with the world’s first 5G piano duet.

For the one-off performance, two pianos in different locations in London were connected, allowing Lewis to show off his piano playing skills live with UK musician and producers, Jay Keys. Thanks to the real-time (also known as low latency) speeds of 5G, it was as if both Lewis and Jay were together in one place at the same time.

The 5G Duet was made possible using specially developed and innovative technology from tech-specific creative agency The 5Gs. Two Yamaha Disklavier E3 Baby Grand Pianos situated in different places were used.

These acoustic pianos had a sensor and actuator system that allowed them to detect what keys are being pressed, as well as play back recordings of previous performances. Vodafone connected each piano to a laptop over the USB-Midi interface.

When a note was played on the piano, the midi signal was sent to the laptop. The midi data was then processed and routed over a private VPN to the cloud via a 5G Gigacube attached to the laptop by Ethernet.

Once in the cloud it was passed back to the second laptop, and then on to the second piano, which would, in real time, play the note on the keyboard. And the same in the other direction at the same time.

Editor Note: This content was filmed prior to the pandemic and before the enforcing of social distancing rules.

Hamilton commented:

“I’ve always loved music and was drawn to the piano from a very young age, however it’s challenging to find time to practise with my career. I was blown away by how 5G can allow me to keep learning in such an interactive way – especially when I am on the road or in another country.”

“For me, music is all about connecting with people and seeing the piano keys move without touching them, as Jay played from somewhere else, was amazing. The immediacy and possibility to learn in real-time when you are thousands of miles apart is a game-changer, and inspires me to continue practising and playing this beautiful instrument.”

Keys, known for his work with Liam Payne, Stormzy, J Hus and Naughty Boy, added:

“Technology like this is going to be game-changing for the music industry. It opens up more opportunities for musicians globally to collaborate in real-time. Imagine 5G-powered writing/production sessions, music lessons and duets happening between musicians everywhere. It will give us the opportunity to be more productive/creative and connect with each other regardless of where we are in the world.”

Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK, said:

“Music has a way of bringing people together and for the first time, using our 5G network, we have been able to demonstrate how two separate pianos and musicians in different locations can play together as one.  The past few months especially have highlighted how important 5G technology will be in bringing more people, places and things closer to what they love – even when they have to be apart.”

The world’s first 5G piano duet is the third short film in Vodafone’s #5Gamechanger campaign. 

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