Immersive technology, whether it’s the metaverse or augmented reality overlaid onto our physical world, will make remote operation of machinery a reality and transform how we communicate
The biggest benefits of immersive technology for business are far-reaching indeed, but these are not benefits which will emerge gradually — expect a period of inertia followed by revolution.
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For immersive reality and its business benefits, it boils down to tipping points.
It is human nature to expect technology to develop gradually — incremental improvements, with each improvement marking a gradual increase in its popularity. In short, there is a perception that technology follows an evolutionary trajectory.
What immersive technology mean for your business
However, the reality is different, and this reality is massively significant for immersive reality and what it means for business.
Immersive reality will have a transformative effect on business: it will give a new impetus to remote work, not only making remote working even more viable for office workers but will enable the long-thought-elusive remote operation of machinery.
Immersive reality will also have extremely important applications in healthcare — as surgeons, via the aid of virtual and augmented reality, perform intricate operations not possible with current technologies.
>See also: Emerging medical technologies in healthcare
Goodbye to keyboards
Immersive reality will mean the decline in keyboards physical or touchscreen — replacing them with virtual keyboards — holograms which hover in front of our eyes.
But as Mark Zuckerberg correctly identified (although his solution may not be optimal), the real opportunity for immersive reality lies with communication. It will transform how companies communicate with their customers; it will transform communication between colleagues working remotely and add a new dimension to social media, creating new marketing opportunities and supporting communication within an organisation. Immersive reality’s business benefits are far-reaching indeed.
The opportunities are as profound as you can imagine but don’t fall into the trap of thinking there is plenty of time. Immersive reality’s development will follow the pattern of Amara’s Law — “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”
Immersive reality is a disruptive technology; its impact will be modest over the next two or three years, continue to be modest mid-decade, but will change the world later in the decade.
As the theory called innovator’s dilemma demonstrates, companies which are slow to embrace the disruptive technology that is immersive technology will discover they have left it too late. They need to build specialisation now. If they wait to see how the story unfolds, they may find that the book describing their history never gets past Chapter 11.
It takes time to understand a new technology: leave it until that technology is obvious and staring us in the face, and you leave it too late.
Business benefits hinge on convergence
Several technologies will create steady process in immersive reality. Once these technologies pass tipping points and converge, the steady progress will become a revolution.
The immersive reality revolution will be analogous to the development of touchscreen phones — a convergence of technologies including advances in screen displays, Moore’s Law, commoditisation of components and faster wireless internet speeds. This convergence changed touchscreen phones from technology hardly anyone wanted into the ubiquitous devices we know today and in a very short time frame.
With immersive technology, continued advances in screen display, overcoming barriers such as Vergence-Accommodation Conflict, advances in foveated imaging, haptics technology and 5G then 6G technology will make the revolution possible, creating extraordinary benefits of immersive technology for business.
Vergence-Accommodation Conflict refers to a conflict between how the brain receives images and the current state of the art in image technology. For example, if you watch a TV, your brain compensates for differences between the image displayed on the device and reality. But in augmented reality, where images are superimposed over reality, the shortcomings of technology are exposed in ways the brain finds it hard to ignore.
The barrier created by the Vergence-Accommodation Conflict is prohibitive to adopting augmented reality, making the user experience quite unsatisfactory. As technology advances such that the issue of Vergence-Accommodation Conflict is overcome, the barrier to augmented reality will be overcome. However, it won’t be overcome gradually — this is not a challenge that allows for partial fixes. For as long as the above problem endures, the adoption of augmented reality will be slow; once it is overcome, augmented reality will probably see the fastest growth rate in business history.
Foveated imaging describes how augmented reality uses small screen displays — such as glasses or contact lenses — but limits in technology restrict screen resolution. Foveated imaging seeks to overcome this by having higher screen resolution in an area of an image that the brain focuses on. The clever use of this technology will create a new impetus for augmented reality.
Both augmented and virtual reality requires haptics technology — bringing physical sensation and ultimately a sense of touch to immersive reality. However, with primitive haptics technology, the user experience from immersive technology will be disappointing and the business benefits of immersive technology will be limited. But as haptics technology advances, which it is, the implications for immersive reality will be dramatic.
5G and 6G
5G and then 6G technologies will be important for immersive reality for two reasons. Firstly, these technologies will make new applications viable — such as the remote operation of machinery, especially outdoors, such as in agriculture or construction.
Second, 5G and 6G will also drive innovation — the potential for immersive reality created by 5G and 6G will drive a new start-up ecosystem, striving to innovate their way to becoming successful businesses. This new immersive reality ecosystem will create new business benefits for immersive reality, driving the uptake and supporting the revolution.
Biggest benefits of immersive technology
The biggest benefits of immersive technology are:
- Communication, both between colleagues and business collaborators and amongst the public. Immersive reality will create new ways to support remote working and new ways for companies to communicate with customers. It will also create opportunities for companies to provide services to customers communicating via immersive reality, such as restaurants designed to support long-distance communication.
- Remote operation of machinery in healthcare, agriculture and manufacturing
Thanks to advances in technologies that will underpin immersive reality and their convergence, the business benefits will emerge suddenly. Businesses need to learn how to apply immersive reality before these benefits emerge, or they will be disrupted, possibly to the point of extinction.
Further reading on emerging technology
The impact of AR and VR will be as big as the internet – Kelly Goetsch, chief product officer at commercetools, is convinced that when AR and VR come of age, the impact of the technologies will be comparable to the internet boom of 1995
SMEs will be run by avatars in time for 2050 – study – A futurology report predicts that SMEs will be run by lookalike avatars of their business owners by 2050 – here’s what they’ll be able to do
Deep tech in 2022: the future is looking artificially intelligent – Daan de Cloe, co-founder and CTO of AutoFill Technologies, provides his predictions for the deep tech space in 2022 and beyond