AWE 2019: Go XR, Be Awesome


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Due to the increased interest in augmented (AR), mixed (MR), virtual (VR), and extended virtual reality (many just call it all XR to make it simple), I decided to again attend and cover the recent 2019 Augmented World Expo (AWE) and conference in Santa Clara, California. My goals were to:

  • Provide some interesting highlights from the talks we attended as well as interviews with suppliers and others
  • Describe some of the best of what I saw at the show, focusing on new and updated hardware
  • Report on new and advanced uses for XR

AWE-USA-2019[1].jpg

This year's event theme, “Go XR, Be Awesome,” says it all. “Awesome” is a great description of what is being done with and planned for XR in the medium and even the short term.

This year was the 10th anniversary of AWE, and there were almost 10,000 attendees, which was almost 3,000 more than had been anticipated, and 100,000 square feet of exhibit space. I realize that this is tiny when compared to CES, but this show has grown in the last few years. Some call AWE the "CES of the Near Future," but while a great deal of CES focuses on XR, AWE is solely focused on XR. AWE focuses on what is coming, while CES shows more of what is available now. To watch a short, interesting video introduction to AWE USA 2019, click here.

Top 10 Areas of Discussion

As stated by Ori Inbar, AWE co-founder, at his opening address:

“For 50 years, computing has been a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional world. Now, tech giants and thousands of startups who are seeking growth opportunities beyond mobile have set spatial computing on a trajectory for exponential growth [more on this later]. Most large corporations are adopting spatial computing to improve their businesses driven by strong evidence it delivers measurable ROI, and consumers begin to appreciate the radical benefits of this technology, which could signal the next dimension of humanity. In 2019, everyone must enter the next dimension to understand the impact it’s bound to have on their lives and businesses.”

Ori indicated that the top 10 areas of discussion at present are:

1. Enabling AR/VR

Thanks to advancements in enabling areas of tech like computer vision, spatial audio gesture recognition, and eye tracking, AR/VR experiences are becoming more natural and immersive.

2. 2019: The Year of the Creator

Several authoring tools aimed at equipping the next generation of creators with fast and easy tools for building AR/VR experiences without code are setting the stage for 2019 to be the “year of the creator.”

3. Advertising and Marketing

AR proved itself last year by increasing sales for early adopters like Houzz, and 2019 is shaping up to be another good year for mobile AR ads as well as VR marketing and consumer research campaigns.

4. Gaming, eSports, and Location-based Entertainment

You need to experience a new reality to believe it, which is why immersive gaming, eSports, and LBE signal the best way forward for AR/VR.

5. Humanities, Privacy, and Ethics

AR/VR are raising critical issues around access, privacy, consent, and harassment. At the same time, we can make a conscious effort to include people of all gender identities, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds in the future of computing.

6. Enterprise

AR/VR are now well-established tools providing ROI at several Fortune 500 companies with larger and even full-production rollouts of AR/VR solutions expected to ramp up in the next few years.

7. Future of Mobility

AR/VR are helping to design, assemble, service, and shop for the cars of tomorrow, and may very well serve as the primary form of in-vehicle entertainment when we no longer need to pay attention to the road.

8. AR Cloud

The race to build an index of the real world is on with companies working to align digital content with the physical environment on a global scale to enable next-level AR.

9. WebXR 

Web-based AR/VR content will impact immersive tech adoption and overall use by exposing the masses to AR and VR without requiring an app download.

10. 5G 

The next generation of AR/VR applications to be successful are going to require greater bandwidth and lower latency than 4G can deliver; therefore, the future of immersive tech depends greatly on the rollout of 5G.

Spatial Computing

So, what exactly is spatial computing? The best definition I have seen is “a set of ideas and technologies that will transform our lives by understanding the physical world, knowing and communicating our relation to places in that world, and navigating through those places.” Basically, spatial computing is human interaction with a machine in which the machine retains and manipulates referents to real objects and spaces. Ideally, these real objects and spaces have prior significance to the user. For instance, a system that allows users to create virtual forms and install them into the actual space surrounding them.

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