Extended reality is a big buzzword in technology right now. Extended reality refers to the immersion into a digital world, and business persons have been quick to jump on the XR train to see what it can do for their business. It hasn't always been this way, however. For a long time XR technology was confined to gaming and training for pilots and military members. In recent years, perhaps in the last decade or two, XR has gained more recognition as a tool for every day business operations. There are reasons why XR technology in business is here to stay, so let's get into it.
What is XR (Extended Reality)?
To really understand they "how," it's important to first understand the "what." What is extended reality? Very simply put, it is an extension of the physical world into an immersive digital one. This can be one where images are projected onto a physical space (called augmented reality) using a display device, or have images displayed in a headset (virtual reality) where the user is immersed into a digital environment (as opposed to a physical one). Extended reality is a spectrum of reality with AR and VR at opposite ends. As a result, it can also be a combination of the two called mixed reality, in which the user can interact digitally with their physical environment. This last one is a newer development, and XR enthusiasts are watching it very closely.
To use XR, a person needs a display, processor, and sensor. Depending on the type, different devices are available for use. For instance, in order to use VR, the user needs a head mounted display (HMD) to see the environment. Not all HMDs have processors or sensors attached, so an external processor is necessary. Augmented reality on the other hand has everything the user needs in one tiny device, their smartphone or tablet. AR can also utilize both HMDs and their smart devices. New glasses are available that enable an information overlay, creating a hands free digitally immersive physical environment.
How Extended Reality Benefits Businesses
With the fact that there are three different types of extended reality, there really are endless possibilities in the business world. It's only limited by the imagination.
Quick collaboration is a vital part of operating a business. Being able to create projects quickly and efficiently is valuable in the workplace. XR technology allows workers to see project updates, changes, and design in real time, as if they were in a physical meeting, but with the benefit of virtual project creation. Changing aspects of the project and having immediate approval by companions creates a swift and efficient workflow.
Employee training is a necessity for a functioning workplace. It takes time and effort on all parts to train an employee well enough to not be a liability. XR technology offers realistic environments and simulations that help with information retention. It also accurately helps the employer gain valuable insight into how the worker actually operates. It also gives the employee a realistic view of what SOP on the job will be and if the job is actually a good fit for them.
Project proposals aren't very exciting if we're being honest here. XR technology can be used to show the benefits of the proposed project. Say a CEO has determined a new building is necessary for the growth of the business. The person who is able to create a better picture of the proposed space is more likely to be lead. XR technology is more exciting, more immersive and entertaining, and gives the CEO an opportunity to "walk" the grounds and get a feel for each project.
Prototyping can be costly and time consuming. Between creating a physical prototype to test out bugs in a product and the materials needed create the product only to have it be wrong in the end is exhausting and wastes valuable worker time and skill. Designing in XR first takes less time and money to complete. This allows workers to look for issues with initial and subsequent designs before an actual prototype is made, saving time, money, and sanity.
Virtual meetings have become increasingly more common after the stay at home orders in 2020. More and more people have opted to stay home, rather than return physically to the workplace because they realized that a physical presence is not always necessary. Sometimes face to face collaboration is necessary, but not necessarily physical collaboration. Extended reality has made it easier for office workers to stay home and still be valuable contributors to the workplace.
Rising Trends in XR Technology
XR technology is growing, there is no doubt, but current market trends can tell us more about mainstream use and why it'll be around for a long time. Like it says above, it all really started in gaming, and there are dozens of use cases for XR technology in business. Here are just a few specific examples.
is empowering students and trainees with excellent career exploration using VR technology. Along with this, they also help users create their own content to distribute. XR Guru caters to a divers groups of people, including educators, families, and content creators to help with their XR needs. Take a look at their Immersive Learning Hub to learn more.
is creating RTX-powered simulations to improve workflow by enabling teams to work together on projects in one virtual space. This means that teams around the world can collaborate and create simultaneously in one space in real time.
Many companies are utilizing augmented reality features to market their product to their audience. Ikea has many settings on their app that let the user place furniture in their home to get a feel for it. Home Depot uses AR to showcase paint colors in the home, making it easier for customers to choose the perfect one.
The major benefit of using VR or AR in marketing is the ability to try before you buy; to get experience with the product before taking the plunge and purchasing a potentially expensive piece of equipment.
The Future of XR Technology
In 2020, the XR market was set at 25.84 billion USD, which is already a lot. However, it is expected to reach at least 379 billion USD by 2026. (Source
) It's compound annual growth rate is 57% in 6 years, an impressive amount of grown for such a short amount of time. Developers are working at a breakneck pace to ensure this growth, but truly XR would not be as far as it is today without those who have used it before, and those who will continue to implement the technology into their every day life and business. Without the marketers, gamers, retailers, designers, construction workers, healthcare workers, and so many more industry professionals seeing the benefits of extended reality.
Extended reality gives businesses of every kind the opportunity to improve efficiency in the workplace. As a new technology XR filled a role in training and entertainment, but as developers gained new insights into the use cases that XR presents they expanded on the basic uses and created new ways to improve. Using XR technology solely as an entertainment tool limits its innate capabilities. The truth is that XR technology is here to stay, changing processes for the better one headset at a time.