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Extended reality (XR) And what if extended reality became… reality?

By combining augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), extended reality (XR) could be generalized as immersive technology over the next five years, thus leaving the leisure field in order to establish itself in the industry.

Augmented reality and virtual reality are already a big part of our everyday life. Reminder: AR adds computer-generated elements to the real world (such as sounds, videos and GPS data), on smartphones or glasses in particular. VR aims for total immersion in a simulated digital environment. The users wear a helmet and can see an artificial world displayed in a 360° vision. It allows, for example, transportation in an imaginary and totally virtual setting.

Today, this VR technology has already passed the stage of the gaming or leisure sector in order to establish itself in fields such as medicine, construction, engineering, training or the military world, with products such as Oculus Rift, Google DayDream or PlayStation VR. MR, finally, makes augmented reality and virtual reality coexist within a ‘hybrid’ reality in order to provide a digital immersion experience during which the users interact with digital objects in a real world.

New opportunities

Although these technologies – grouped under the label of ‘extended reality’ – already exist for some time, they have been limited to very specific fields until now. But recently, companies have started to show interest in the potential offered by these technologies, to the point that observers are now talking about ‘extended reality’ (XR). This market is expected to reach $209 billion by 2022, or an eightfold increase compared to the current value of the market, according to the American consultancy firm Visual Capitalist. Gartner – which speaks of an ‘immersive experience’ – considers that by 2022, 70% of the companies will have launched pilot projects in immersion, both at professional and general level, while 25% of the initiatives will be deployed in production.

Consequently, there are many opportunities for XR technology. In the distribution industry, XR allows customers to try a product before buying it. Training is another major field for XR, especially when it concerns remote training or training implying danger for public health (emergency services, surgeons, chemists), during which it will be possible to learn to react to a delicate situation without taking unnecessary risks. The marketing industry is also interested in XR to analyze the reactions of consumers and prospects. The same goes for the real estate industry, which will allow future buyers to virtually visit a house, and construction companies or architects to visualize the works before their realization.

Obstacles

Although the field of possibilities is nearly endless, especially at a time when the processing capacities are constantly increasing while the cloud offers maximum flexibility, the success of XR will nevertheless involve the removal of certain obstacles. First of all, we must collect and process very large (often personal) volumes of data, which should be secured as much as possible (taking into account the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR).

Subsequently, the cost of deployment of these technologies will have to be reduced, even when prices are expected to drop following the massive adoption of these technologies. This also goes for the prices of the devices. Moreover, the connectivity will have to be improved. 5G could be an interesting solution in this context.

Specifically in terms of IT, these new XR technologies will have to be integrated into the existing IT infrastructures in order to fully exploit their potential, by considerably increasing storage and processing capacities, especially in the cloud. Moreover, analytics and artificial intelligence will allow to analyze the large volumes of data to be processed, while the capacity of the networks will have to be adapted accordingly.

Cooperation

Globally speaking, the deployment of XR should allow to reduce costs, to improve operational performance and to generate value, knowing that one of the major benefits of XR is that it can shorten (or even eliminate) distance. Consequently, in order to optimally exploit technology, we must redesign the processes by taking the absence of distance as a starting point. This will force us to think in a completely different way, while neglecting physical barriers. More than ever, IT will be a facilitator, but it is up to the business to consider the potential offered.

Furthermore, the contribution of an external partner could be interesting when considering new opportunities. In this context, the role of the integrator will be decisive in order to select the offer that best meets current and future needs. Aprico Consultants is a consulting company specialized in the architecture and transformation of information systems. By resolutely accelerating the digital transformation process, the company provides its customers with the flexibility, performance and competitiveness required to allow them to strengthen their market position. Aprico Consultants cooperates with its clients to convert their strategy, goals and constraints into pragmatic transformation programs delivering real added value and a proven return on investment.

More information: marketing @aprico-consult.com