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Immersive technologies – waiting for more reality

PA’s Thomas Brand, Digital Innovation Expert, is quoted in an article which looks at immersive technologies to support more realistic virtual realities. The article explains that it will take a few more years for immersive technologies to go beyond the entertainment industry. Thomas says: “In entertainment the idea is common sense, however, in corporate environment such technologically available applications are often still in their infancy – and, due to lack of business cases, do not go beyond prototype or beta status.”

The article continues that Thomas describes the entertainment industry as a technology driver. He goes on to say: "The gaming industry in particular is huge today, things can be trialed relatively quickly – also because games do not necessarily have to match every detail of reality and things can be simplified." Video games and entertainment products are about emotions. "Especially emotions such as fear and euphoria become stronger, the more realistic a scenario occurs to us," Thomas explains – and sees ethical limits: "The least people in cinema or computer games would like to go through near-death experiences."

In contrast to the gaming industry, other industries are using virtual reality very slowly – and so far hardly in the industrial B2B environment. "If, for example, a skyscraper is being built in Dubai, you can already visit the rooms in 3-D before the foundation has even been started," Thomas reports. Apart from ‘lighthouse’ applications, it may take a few more years for such technologies to enter everyday economic life – not least due to a lack of digital maturity or virtual imagination in the boardrooms or in the Mittelstand. Thomas estimates that it would be 2025 at the earliest. But something is happening that he binds to his observations on the Microsoft Hololens: "Four to five years ago, only small start-ups dealt with it, today there are many big players testing the possibilities – from Panasonic via Google to Carl Zeiss."

The medical industry is likely to discover immersive technologies on a bigger scale as pharmaceutical and medical technology companies have a lot of money for such research. In addition, the technologies are becoming more and more normal in everyday life. "When VR and AR glasses are affordable for normal consumers the technology should get another boost," Thomas comments.

Virtual realities are already being used in industry for training. Thomas reports on a client project in which a training environment was set up for IMI Critical Engineering with the help of Microsoft Hololens. Here comes Artificial Intelligence (AI) into play. Thomas is sure: “AI will have the biggest impact on immersive technologies in the coming years. It will no longer be about addressing even more senses." Instead, AI allows to test solution scenarios and show the user the most promising solution based on algorithms. Or, in a training situation, to be able to experience situations which could occur in reality. In this way immersive technologies could also be used as applications in the B2B industry.

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