The Augmented World Expo: Go XR or Become Extinct


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While most of the presentations were by humans aided by XR, some were virtual speakers. I could write two more columns just on the presentations I attended at least part of and there were so many more that I could not get to. I suggest that you might want to take a look at the presentations [2] that you may be interested in for yourself. Following are some additional highlights and interesting statistics I heard at various sessions:

  • As mentioned, all types of AR/VR/etc. are now called XR
  • The growth rate for XR has just left the flat part of the growth curve in the last year
  • The market potential for XR is now $200 billion
  • For the first time the AR cloud is now possible
  • The prediction is one billion XR users by 2019
  • In the last 12 months, $12.6 billion has been invested in XR
  • VR headsets sales are up 82% this year
  • Per a 2018 survey, 72% of fortune 1000 companies plan to use XR
  • AWE shows in 2018 are up to 15,000 attendees globally, 6000+ in Santa Clara
  • However, although rapid, it is still slower growth than many thought it would be at this point based on recent forecasts

On Day 2, even with many more presentations, I spent my time on the show floor. The exhibition was divided into three main areas. One was normal booths showing presently available products and processes using XR. Another was startup companies and prerelease devices, and the third was the play area where you could enter various virtual worlds using the latest technology and devices and…play.

virtual_enhanced_service450.jpgAs mentioned earlier, the Microsoft area was especially interesting. You could put on an XR headset and stand in front of a malfunctioning piece of equipment or computer and call an offsite expert who could then see what you see and superimpose his instructions and guidance augmenting your reality with his virtual pointing and guidance; in no time, you could repair and reset the device. I went through the process and thought that was so much faster, less expensive and more satisfying than waiting for a repair person to show up perhaps a few days later or even trying to have an expert talk you through it on the phone.

One interesting conversation was with an IEEE rep who invited us to meet with them to discuss some of the more pressing topics. I met with IEEE Director of Innovation Jay Iorio and Senior Program Director Kathy Grise as well as Minu Seshasayee, Senior Director at Interprose. As they noted, “XR is poised to become the standard, general-purpose, ubiquitous-as-sunglasses sensory interface for a blizzard of AI-curated content, informed by sensors.”

ieee_logo.jpgWe discussed the future of XR and how IEEE is now much more involved than just engineering. They are far more broadly involved than in the ‘60s, when I received my IEEE certification (yes, I have been around that long). They are of course still engineering centric but now they are involved in a broad scope covering topics from engineering to the ethical, from helping young professionals to women in engineering, students, researchers and so much more. I suggest that anyone on a career path in the tech industry, especially early in their career, check out what IEEE has to offer.

We spoke on a broad range of issues including some that are not being widely discussed yet, such as the dangers of being exposed to EMF and RFI radiation of various power levels and frequencies coming from smartphones, wireless headphones, WIFI, Bluetooth and the incoming wave and growing true megatrend of IoT. In fact, I recounted to them an experience from one of the presentations I attended on Day 1 of the show regarding IoT from a provider of wireless devices where I had the opportunity to ask a question. I asked, “Are you concerned about the increasing exposure to varying sources of RF radiation for hours on end day after day?” My question was skipped over and not addressed by the speaker; it was obvious to those in attendance that it was not a topic that they wanted to discuss and when I recounted that experience to Jay of IEEE he seemed to understand and did not seem surprised.

It was an interesting and informative session. I now have a greater appreciation for IEEE’s efforts in the modern age. Their following statement says a great deal: “Because the potential of XR combined with machine learning and sensor networks is arguably unprecedented in the history of technology, this revolution is poised to become a powerful example of how technology can potentially have vast and unpredictable effects, as well as how its creators might evolve to see their role as broader than simply enabling commerce. This moment could be a unique opportunity to build an ethical foundation for the development of technology so that the needs of all stakeholders can be addressed, and so that the full diversity of the human community can be reflected in our created worlds.” As we wrapped up our discussion, I thought that I will be paying more attention to the activities of the IEEE.

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