With those in attendance at CES 2019 expecting virtual reality (VR) headsets to be ‘as common as mobile phones’ by now, there have been more questions raised about the future of cross-reality (XR).
However, while cross-reality may be steering away from the consumer dream it was once described as, its potential remains limitless, providing previously unheard-of opportunities to all sectors from retail to the construction industry.
So what does 2019 actually hold for the industry? Ben Bennett, Managing Director of Luminous Group, predicts the future for XR.
Videogames have provided a cross-reality platform for other industries
With VR actively moving further away from its gaming backbone, it paves the way for XR to expand the technologies horizons into new industries.
Taking the construction industry as an example, the same technology used to create a fictional gaming world like BeatSaber can be used to produce a virtual mapping of a proposed building; giving clients the ability to see the final product before a worker even steps onto the site.
Mixed Reality is revolutionising health and safety training across industries
Simulated XR experience brings a number of benefits to traditional health and safety training.
Virtual environments allow the employee to be placed into lifelike situations and face potentially dangerous scenarios without the risks associated with real-world training. The technology prepares workers for emergencies, providing them with the skills to react quickly when faced with it again in a real situation.
Similarly, augmented reality (AR) means that you can pass information to the participants in real time on objectives, hazards or best-practice, like a virtual teacher/instructor.
Mixed Reality (MR) is being deployed more often into enterprise as a way of improving communication and reducing cost. If a machine on a factory line breaks down an engineer with a Hololens can put in a call to a remote expert anywhere in the world who can guide them through the repair. This reduces expensive travel costs but also get the factory back into production faster something that can save hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Focus on movement
One of the main criticisms of VR since its inception has been its movement or locomotion mechanics. Nothing ruins an immersive experience quite like walking into something in the real world or even worse, experiencing motion sickness which unfortunately has been a common side effect of VR.
This year’s launch of ‘Cybershoes’, a product that tracks the wearer’s movements in real life and mirrors their steps is a novel approach which we will be watching with interest. Not only would realistic movement recreations add another dimension to the overall experience, but it would also allow for more accurate training applications which require you to travel distances, as you could walk across a whole factory or construction site without having to rely on the unrealistic teleportation mechanic.
Higher AI crossover with AR and VR
It seems a formality at this point that AR and VR developers will focus more on developing AI into their apps; especially as it will enable more complicated and jaw-dropping features.
AI and AR combinations already occur in everyday life more than the average person would realise with social media filters being the most basic of examples of what the combination can achieve. Away from the consumer aspect, embracing AI and its technology has the potential to be used across a range of industries.
Microsoft cognitive services are making this technology more accessible and easier to deploy than ever whether it is a computer visions system to identify hazards or nonconformance in the workplace to predictive analytics and preventative maintenance to improve equipment lifespan and performance.
In the food sector this could, in theory, lead to the ability of quickly identifying the presence of pathogens in a workplace or even aid early diagnosis of diseases because of the technology’s ability to use algorithms to predict futures from existing case studies. This lends itself to a range of industries but especially health and safety where the seemingly unforeseeable essentially becomes an equation.
Overall, I think 2019 will be a huge, and possibly defining, year for the XR industry. While the industry may not be the consumer-driven revolution that was once anticipated, the professional aspect of the industry is constantly growing. At Luminous, we’ve continued to look at the technology as a way to improve several industries and are constantly looking to explore new and inventive applications using the incredible technology we have at our disposal. The VR industry is changing but, especially if the predictions above come to fruition, it is only going to continue growing.