Vodafone creates 5G shirt signing for British & Irish Lions fans

Vodafone has conducted the world’s first 5G shirt signing  - the ‘8,000 Mile Auto5Graph’ - connecting rugby fans in the UK with Lions players 8,000 miles away in South Africa, for a live autograph signing - made possible by the power of 5G. With supporters unable to travel, Vodafone – Lead Partner for the British & Irish Lions – found an innovative way to connect fans to the players competing overseas and give back a missed moment of much-needed connection for both. 

Rugby super fans Rocco Lock, Mark Probert, Mel Dee and Graham Bartlett all met their Lions heroes and shared words of encouragement, before the 5G-powered robot, controlled by the Lions players in South Africa, wrote a personal message and signature directly onto their jersey, live in front of their eyes.

Using a precision robot, motion control technology and Vodafone’s low latency 5G network, the Lions players signed jerseys live for fans in the UK, from over 8,000 miles away.  As the player made contact on a tablet with a stylus in South Africa, a robot arm stationed in London mirrored the player’s hand movements, allowing them to write directly onto the fan’s jersey in real-time, while chatting on a video call.

Max Taylor, Consumer Director at Vodafone, said: “For the fans who would have gone on this Lions tour to South Africa, getting a signed shirt would be a one of the highlights of the trip. The pandemic risked stopping that from happening – but we’ve used 5G to find a way to make it a reality. Throughout this tour, we’ve used technology and innovation to overcome barriers.”

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