Gears are turning as the mid-year crossover is in full effect. Soon, Meta will host its Connect 2023 event, whereby the firm will announce innovations in its XR product portfolio.
Meanwhile, the immersive industry is coming closer to a potential paradigm shift in 2024, as big technology brands plan to make a mark on the emerging sector.
XR Today recently marked this period with an XR Trends series, which brought together some of the best minds in the industry to share AR/VR/MR insights.
XR Trends 2023
Our series has welcomed esteemed guests from the following companies:
- Peter Vindevogel, Chief Executive, The Park Playground
- Jake Rowland, Group Head of Business and Sales, EMEA and US, Igloo Vision
- Dr Chris Parkinson, Co-Founder, CEO and Chairman, RealWear, Inc
- Brian Ballard, Senior Vice President of Solution Delivery, TeamViewer
- Michael Guerin, Principal CEO, Imvizar
- Christoph Fleischmann, the CEO and Founder of Arthur Technologies
Some of the main questions our guests aimed to tackle have included AR for frontline workers, remote guidance, immersive entertainment, brand storytelling, virtual office, metaverse collaboration, XR trends, and company updates.
Notably, Jake Rowland explored new trends in combining XR and unified communications (UC) tools to create shared virtual spaces without needing a headset, therefore bringing value to major companies – “absolutely [a] big crossover” across technologies and that “companies [were] getting a lot of value from it,” remarked Rowland.
Moreover, Michael Guerin said that over the next few years, immersive and spatial storytelling experiences would become “much more prevalent in the next three to five years.” However, companies would need to “make it easier for people to create it to expand adoption rates.”
During the XR Trends conversation, Dr Chris Parkinson also stated that XR devices would “get smaller, lighter, [and] faster. Batteries would become more compact along with device form factors whilst also becoming more powerful. Parkinson also noted other major trends would involve the “expansion of display technology” as well as further AI integrations.
Furthermore, Brian Ballard highlighted how, despite improvements in XR technologies, end users have been solving a problem rather than simply innovating headsets, software, and solutions. Factors such as massive changeovers in the workplace, new workforce requirements, and others would require connecting people to data sources, not just “raw skill.” This would lead to greater returns on investment (ROI) for companies as they adopted XR solutions.
Peter Vindevoge, speaking on the entry of Meta Platforms, Apple, and many others, could lead to a trend of greater VR gaming adoption. Additional collaboration with major telecoms like Vodafone would also help facilitate 5G connectivity to alleviate motion sickness, create more realistic immersive experiences, improve hardware performance and form factors, and boost opportunities for gaming to grow across the sector.
Finally, Christoph Fleischmann told XR Today that there was “so much momentum happening in the technology with mixed reality that [has] changed the game again.” Some people could join rooms physically for meetings and team-building activities, with others joining remotely. XR technologies would not “compete” with current work streams but rather “integrate with them, maybe even evolve them.” This would ultimately lead to greater adoption rates across mediums, leading to a truly phygital XR experience.
XR World Reacts to New Unity Runtime Fees
Unity Technologies has reportedly backtracked on the controversial fees it introduced last week, triggering a public outcry from the developer community, with many Unity developers slamming the new fees as unfair, prompting the San Francisco-based firm to rescind its announcement partially.
Currently, Unity is the most widely-used gaming engine used to create VR/AR/MR experiences for individual developers and enterprises. Many companies and enterprise XR end users are leveraging the platform for the industrial metaverse, gaming, education, design, and engineering may face the incoming fees. Many with their own XR-related enterprises have hit back at the new pricing scheme.
Renato Andrade, Senior XR Product Designer, Samsung R&D Institute (SIDIA), posted his thoughts on the changes, gaining him over 20,000 impressions on LinkedIn.
He called the changes “problematic” and stated they could “harm the XR industry” in the short and middle term.
In his post, he noted:
Well, as Unity is the engine used by the most XR and game developers worldwide, this new licensing fee is very problematic and can harm the XR industry in short or middle term. This also open the door for Epic and their Unreal Engine to shine and capture the entire XR development market. Charging per install also means heavy privacy concerns, as they will need to track each install of a game or application. It will be a mess.
Additionally, Dilmer Valecillos, Founder & XR Developer, Learn XR, said he was “not in any position to stop using Unity, especially with all the client projects I currently have.”
Valecillos also noted:
I like to push for Unity to adopt a simplified model and ensure they inform people / studios in advance when drastic changes like this are coming. I am part of the Inside Creators program, and even though I don’t keep up to date with them, I still check it. But I didn’t even know this was coming until it was announced publicly.
Zachary Kosma, XR Developer and Educator, added that he thought that Unity was “doing the right thing” by creating a “base expectation and model to use as a starting point” for negotiating the use of its ecosystem.
Kosma explained in his LinkedIn post,
Obviously free to play will need different kinds of discounts / support than multi-platform console titles (where you may be able to transfer your install). Unity is no stranger to collaboration, I believe they encouraged developers to reach out so they can start to scale their business development support (on top of their existing technical support).
VR Training to Reach Middle East Regions
Via its Middle East Affiliate, Verse Foresight, PIXO VR is assisting in bringing its brand of XR training expertise and knowledge to the region.
Using the vendor’s expertise in VR training, clients across the Middle East can close the knowledge gaps required for successfully leveraging XR solutions at an enterprise level – thanks to Verse Foresight, PIXO VR partnership.
Sean Hurwitz, the CEO of PIXO VR, added:
We are excited to partner with Verse Foresight as our Middle East affiliate. The Middle East region’s growing appetite for innovation aligns with our mission to make work safer and more enriching through VR Training. Together with Verse Foresight, we aim to offer unmatched enterprise-grade immersive learning solutions to businesses in the Middle East.
Moreover, according to the partners, the alliance allows Middle Eastern clients to gain “profound knowledge” and understand how XR can assist with the region’s learning needs.
To support the region’s learning needs and XR understanding, Verse Foresight is expanding the availability of PIXO VR solutions to clients in the Middle East. According to the firm, the partnership extends PIXO VR’s product portfolio to regional clients representing markets such as energy, construction, education, and healthcare.
Mostafa Nassef, the CEO of Verse Foresight, explained:
Our partnership with PIXO VR as their affiliate in the Middle East is a significant step towards enhancing immersive learning experiences in the region. Leveraging PIXO’s exceptional VR content creation expertise and enterprise-grade platform, we are poised to empower businesses in the Middle East to engage their audiences in profoundly impactful ways.
Microsoft Leads XR Success in Healthcare and Engineering
As the firm works towards its industrial 2024 Metaverse roadmap, Microsoft is keen to display client success stories highlighting how enterprise partnerships enhance their workplaces with Microsoft’s immersive product portfolio.
Recently, Microsoft has showcased how clients Nexco-East and Sanofi use the firm’s XR product portfolio. Each firm is working with Microsoft to leverage the firm’s emerging industrial Metaverse ecosystem.
At its Technical Training Center (TTC) located in Takasaki, Gunma, Nexco-East trainees can access a Microsoft-powered immersive training service. The firm states that the training service equips every engineer with the necessary knowledge and skills to complete repair and maintenance tasks.
Microsoft and Nexco-East’s immersive training solution focuses on translating practical, real-world usage of ETC equipment within a safe and repeatable virtual training space.
Yoshitaka Nakamura, Nexco-East Engineering’s Manager of Facilities Construction Work Division, explained how ETC equipment comprises multiple devices, leading to extensive training required for workers.
Nakamura also noted that training sessions must also show “how ETC equipment operates was explained with extensive materials such as paper-based radio communication and control signal flow charts, PowerPoint slides, and chalk talks of instructors and then tested with actual ETC devices.”
However, it requires considerable time to gain understanding of associations among the training materials. Also, radio communication and control signal flows are impossible to see, so we had to rely on trainees’ imaginations. This resulted in gaps in understanding.
Microsoft shared another success story with client Sanofi, a pharmaceutical firm that develops and manufactures prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Christophe Lefebvre, the Production and Maintenance Site Manager at Sanofi, called the partnership a “revolution,” remarking:
We see the value HoloLens 2, the metaverse, can bring to every aspect of our operational chain. Ultimately it will help deliver even more in our commitment to supporting better health and well-being for our customers.
The Paris-based client is leveraging Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist to streamline and optimise production lines, training procedures, and onboarding.
The firm is facing an increasing demand for Sanofi-based pharmaceuticals. Sanofi had to find a way to streamline production operations and improve effectiveness; moreover, by leveraging the Microsoft immersive product portfolio, the firm can train and onboard an increased number of operators.
Following a successful pilot. Sanofi is now planning to expand its workplace solutions to reach different workers to expand the value of XR across the firm. Moreover, Sanofi is leveraging Microsoft’s products with a specific emphasis on data analysis.