Reimagining Life in Extended Reality

Image credit: iStockphoto/3DSculptor

Today, if you want to learn how to do almost anything, your first move will be to go online and check out YouTube tutorials.

Anything from hobby-based activities such as playing guitar and cooking through to university lectures and medical operations, there is seemingly a YouTube video for almost every aspect of life or work.

Just when we have become used to this as the new normal, extended reality is set to make this phenomenon seem old fashioned, and within a short period.

Already, the conference industry — which has been forced to re-imagine itself curing the pandemic — is moving to embrace extended reality as a new option.

Film making special effects are accelerating the move towards extended reality while technical training in manufacturing industries are among sectors leading the charge, along with retail, education, and medical care.

Residents of aged care homes are already going on virtual reality journeys without leaving their loungerooms.

Future of extended reality

Australian futurologist Rocky Scopelliti outlined his vision of where things are going in an online event last week on extended reality hosted by Australian start-up incubator Stone and Chalk.

Scopelliti, the author of the book “Australia 2030! Where the bloody hell are we?” outlined a set of insights from discussions with Australian executives on the trends they see for the decade ahead.

They identified five critical future technologies: artificial intelligence, the internet of things, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and blockchain.

And while extended reality did not feature on its own as a discrete technology, Scopelliti made the point that harnessing these technologies and combining them would deliver almost ubiquitous extended reality, which would permeate through more experiences in both the consumer and business worlds.

All this would be enabled by the advent of 5G, which would make new extended applications possible and deliver connectivity to another one billion of the earth’s population.

“I call it the programmatic decade we are moving into, and it is one where the software will enable a lot of the lifestyle and other processes to become programmatic and fulfill needs in different ways,” he said.

“All these five technologies will accelerate that. All of those are going to reach major inflection points, so we will see more disruption and transformation than we have ever seen. These technologies are very powerful individually, and we have to think about the multiplicative effect of what happens when you put these technologies together.”

Distributed architecture

One of the significant trends, said Scopelliti, was a shift from a “centralized” view of architecture to distributed.

The move to edge computing, he said, would facilitate the “multiplicative effect” of what happens when latency processing and storage were placed much closer to the “point of consumption.”

“For example, when you store digital rich media much closer to a venue for either sport or entertainment, what happens to the experiences you can then create?”

Scopelliti gave the example of online gaming, which today delivers an experience based on a set-top box close to a monitor.

“But what happens when you have 5G combined with a software-defined network?” he questioned.

“This means you can almost do away with consoles; we expect to see a massive take up of extended reality.”

In terms of other applications, the medical industry was on the cusp of significant change as technology increasingly enabled the distribution of expertise.

A medical professional in Perth, for example, could be diagnosing or performing surgery on someone in an undeveloped country, and this will have an impact across most industries with a whole range of different experiences.

Education would also move from a “static one-way environment” into an experiential space where “all senses would be immersed.”

Hypercritical data

In all of these changes, said Scopelliti, data would be “hypercritical.”

“The proportion of [hypercritical] data today is quite low. But the more we are dependent on this, the more hypersensitive our settings around data policies are going to become.”

He said data would become “recognized and legislated as an asset,” and when that happens, the world will look at data differently.

“All this will come back to the role of trust,” said Scopelliti.

“We need to shift our thinking of who do we trust to what do we trust. And that is inclusive of the data to the service provider and the device we are using,” he added.

“The common denominator across all the five technology trends is data. So, it’s profoundly important that we think about these transformations from a data-first point of view.”

Image credit: iStockphoto/3DSculptor