Virgin Media O2 is offering a glimpse into the future of children’s play, with the unveiling of its ‘Connected Playground’ in London, powered entirely by its gigabit broadband and 5G mobile networks.

The ‘Connected Playground’ combines traditional play with next-generation connectivity. With swings, slides and climbing frames, Kings Square Garden in Islington looks the part of a conventional playground. However, the playground is modified with sensors, pressure pads and infrared beams fuelled by VMO2’s network.

The interactive playground reacts in real-time to children’s movement, enabling them to create music as they make their way around the play experience. Each piece of equipment influences pitch and tempo, which can be heard through speakers throughout the play area. Once kids complete the playground course, their parents receive download access to the music track they’ve created.

Gareth Lister, Director of Connectivity at Virgin Media O2, said:

“Great connectivity has never been so integral to everyday life. From play to education, and everything in between, it sits at the heart of all that we do.”

He said VMO2 created the Connected Playground to demonstrate the power of 5G and gigabit broadband networks. He said it also showcases the “boundless possibilities” of hyperfast connectivity.

“That’s why we’ll keep pushing boundaries and innovating so that our connectivity can continue to power new technologies and experiences of the future.”

VMO2 has partnered with local schools to offer pupils, aged 6 to 9, the opportunity to unlock their creativity and take part in the musical playtime challenge.

The playground was also designed with the help of child psychologists, who provided their insights into the playing habits of children and how technology can benefit their cognitive development.

Dr Sam Wass, child psychologist at the University of East London, said:

“New hybrid environments, such as Virgin Media O2’s Connected Playground, may in the future play a vital role in encouraging children to embrace technology in outdoor settings, and help provide children with the tools they need to think and play creatively.”

He said the pairing – of outdoor playtime and digital interaction – has long-term benefits for children’s concentration and mood.

Virgin Media O2 provides 47 million UK connections across broadband, mobile, TV and home phone, bringing together next-generation gigabit broadband and 5G services. It’s the nation’s largest gigabit broadband operator.

The Connected Playground is open until 11 March.