“The only true voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust
Have you ever wanted to stand at the feet of the dinosaurs? This probably brings up a mental image of the film series Jurassic Park, but imagine doing so safely from your own home. Or better yet, what if you could view life from the eyes of a Tyrannosaurus Rex? Or stand in the crowd as Lincoln delivers his Gettysburg Address? Or watch Rome burn as you fiddle away? With Extended Reality (XR) all of these things and many, many more are possible. XR is an umbrella term that encompasses Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 360 ° Video, and Mixed Reality. AR and VR are very well known for their use in video games and portrayal on television and in movies, but their application extends far beyond the video game industry and outside of poorly conceived, plot-lacking films. Coupled with 360 ° Video and Mixed Reality, XR provides a fully immersive experience. As a whole, XR will revolutionize the way we think, learn, teach, and do things. Pilots, surgeons, or military members can train in realistic, yet safe environments, children can learn history by experiencing it first hand, and anyone can watch a movie from the perspective of their favorite character. XR is only limited by what we can imagine and how far we want to go.
What is XR?
XR is the culmination of decades of technological progress. As a whole, XR is a synthesis of several complementary technologies that, when combined, provide a completely immersive experience. Broken down into its components, XR consists of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, and 360° video. Most people are familiar with the terms Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, however, Mixed Reality and 360° Video are less well-known. This is likely due to the greater number of commercial products that utilize either or both VR and AR. VR has captivated people since the concept was featured in film and on television in the 1980s (Franklin Institute, 2019b). VR works by “play[ing] with our senses to transport us to any world that we can imagine” (Franklin Institute, 2019b). This technology simulates the rules that our brain expects reality to follow in a virtually created environment (Franklin Institute, 2019b). AR does the opposite by merging a virtual environment with our physical environment. A well-known example of AR is the mobile application Pokemon-Go. Another example of AR is the Live View feature from Google Maps. The Live View feature uses your phone’s camera to display your physical environment with digital map directions laid over top (Franklin Institute, 2019a).
Whereas AR and VR are separate technologies, Mixed Reality looks to combine them by merging both the AR and VR environments. In other words, Mixed Reality allows AR and VR to work together. Finally, 360° Video provides a 360° view of an environment using specialized camera equipment. On its own, 360° video has numerous applications including real estate, medicine, sports and entertainment, however, combined with AR, VR, and Mixed Reality, 360° Video provides the means to create fully immersive and realistic environments. The combination of AR, VR, Mixed Reality, and 360° Video is what makes XR so revolutionary. XR can drastically alter our relationship with technology and fundamentally change the way we do things. Furthermore, XR has applications in numerous and varied industries. Finally, though, and what may be XR’s greatest strength, is something it has in common with a fine wine– that it will only improve with age.
As the technology that XR relies upon develops further, XR will assuredly advance past its current limitations. That being said, XR is still in a period of infancy. Despite relying on emerging technologies, the promise of XR and what it will do in the future has encouraged extraordinary investment in a wide variety of industries. In fact, in 2015 Hypergrid Business reported that 75% of Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands “[had] created some form of virtual or augmented reality experience”, a percentage that has undoubtedly grown since 2015 (Korolov, 2015). Moreover, the AR and VR industry “generated $14.84 billion in 2020” with projected growth expected to reach a staggering $454.73 Billion by 2030 (Allied Market Research, 2021). This is the level of investment for an industry that is still in its infancy in many ways. The already staggering return on investment goes to show how impactful XR will be in the future.
What is impossible to predict and frankly, incalculable are the ways in which XR will transform and remodel the many industries to which it will or already has been introduced. Those industries include but are not limited to, education, video games, healthcare, engineering, live entertainment and sports, movies and television, real estate, retail, and the military. The use of XR in video games is well known, however, the significance cannot be overstated. The global video game industry surged to over $179 billion in 2020, which is more than the global movie and North American sports industries combined (Witkowski, 2021). As such, investments in XR-related video games are expected to surpass $11 Billion by 2025.
That being said, XR is more than fun and games. Education is another area where XR is poised to subvert established practices and methods. The return on investment in regards to education might be lower than some of the other industries mentioned, however, the overall impact could be far greater. The use of VR for education provides educators the ability to teach in “more interactive ways” and can “improve overall learning” for students (Dick, 2021). Imagine learning history by experiencing it before your own eyes. You could sail with Leif Erikson and the first Europeans to make it to the new world or watch as Mount Vesuvius erupts and blankets nearby Pompeii in ash. Additionally, the ways with which education and learning could be improved through the data generated by XR are immeasurable. First, XR presents an opportunity to gather data on each student at an individual level. This data could be leveraged to prepare individualized lessons for each student that are catered to the ways in which that student best retains information. Second, on a macro level, data on how students best learn could be used in the same way– only applied to how we teach in general.
In a similar manner to education, XR can be applied to training in a myriad of industries. These include military, retail, healthcare, engineering, and many others. Safety training through XR, like education, is more interactive, realistic, and immersive. XR training works by simulating realistic workplace scenarios which give trainees the opportunity to “engage with training beyond traditional […] methods” (Belch, 2020). Importantly, this type of training “[translates] learning into real-life job performance” and has been shown to reduce workplace injuries by as much as 43% (Belch,2020). Overall, the main goals of employee training programs are to adequately prepare employees for their jobs and to foster safe work environments in which employees may thrive. Training programs that adopt the use of XR accomplish both goals more effectively than traditional training methods. Think about it this way– would you rather a surgeon train in a simulated virtual environment before ever operating on a living person? It cannot hurt to have that extra experience, and in fact, it makes everyone involved much safer.
While XR can drastically alter the way we teach and learn, this article has only briefly touched on the avenues for entertainment that XR provides. Yes, the market value of the video game industry is staggeringly immense and only growing. The advent of XR presents more than just an opportunity to generate wealth, although there exists plenty of that. In fact, the entertainment industry as a whole includes much more than just video games. As such, XR offers the opportunity to fundamentally alter both live and on-demand entertainment as we know it. Follow your favorite band on tour from your couch? Check. Go to the World Cup and never leave home? Also, check. The value for fans is practically immeasurable, as is the value for businesses. Imagine FIFA partnering with a company to allow fans to experience the world cup, live and from the field. The most recent World Cup final amassed 1.1 billion viewers during the 90-minute game even without the implementation of XR, so picture what XR could do for both fans and businesses alike (Richter, 2021). For clarity, roughly 14% of the World’s population tuned in to the World Cup final so the potential profit from such a venture could potentially be worth trillions of dollars. That being said, XR is for more than just live events. In actuality, it is really only limited by how far we want it to go. For instance, a movie in XR could allow you to experience the movie directly from a character’s point of view. As long as interested parties persist, XR can produce whatever we set our minds on. It would only be a slight hyperbole to say that the possibilities for XR are truly boundless.
It is true that XR offers a unique opportunity to upend modern life, however, it is not without costs. Specifically, XR systems can be expensive both to develop and maintain. This is where MDACA XR comes in. MDACA XR is designed to allow businesses of any size to adopt and benefit from XR without facing the prohibitive up-front costs of designing and implementing a system on their own. MDACA XR along with the MDACA suite of applications provides everything needed to support any XR goals. Whether businesses want to develop immersive training for their employees or design a video game using XR, MDACA will provide everything needed.
MDACA XR will provide the framework with which to build your XR application and the MDACA suite of applications will enable you to securely store, process, and analyze all data collected through your XR application. Furthermore, included within the MDACA suite of applications is our Machine Learning (ML) platform. Using machine learning to analyze data can set your organization apart and put you at the forefront of technological advancement. ML models are capable of evaluating data at speeds and with an efficiency that humans are simply incapable of replicating. The result is that ML models are able to spot patterns and anomalies within data that would otherwise go unnoticed. Including ML within your XR solution will allow you to improve the way your system works and the results it produces, whether you are developing a training program for pilots or an application to teach first-grade reading.
If you think that your business or organization could be improved through the implementation of an XR application, then MDACA XR is the product for you. Everything will be tailored and designed specifically to meet your needs and you may pick and choose which MDACA products and applications you want or need. MDACA XR is designed to be flexible so that it can fit the needs of any business or organization.
The French author Marcel Proust (1988) is famously quoted as saying “the true voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”, but that is not the full quote. The full passage from volume 5 La Prisonnière of Proust’s seminal work À la recherche du temps perdu (In search of lost time) is as follows:
“A pair of wings, a different respiratory system, which enabled us to travel through space, would in no way help us, for if we visited Mars or Venus while keeping the same senses, they would clothe everything we could see in the same aspect as the things of the Earth. The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is; and this we do, with great artists; with artists like these, we do really fly from star to star” (Proust, 1988).
I think the full quote better captures the heart of Proust’s conclusion. Not only must we seek to discover new things, but we must seek to discover new things with new eyes. MDACA XR is uniquely capable of accomplishing these feats. For Proust, the idea of standing on Saturn’s rings would have seemed impossible, but today those things are achievable through MDACA XR. MDACA XR is not only capable of transporting us to new and strange lands, but it enables us to view those lands through the “new eyes” Proust sought. Finally, Proust’s dream has come true, and it is “with great artists […] we do really fly from star to star” (1988).
Allied Market Research. (2021, November 01). Augmented and virtual reality market to reach $454.73 billion by 2030. Global Newswire. Retrieved from https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2021/11/01/2324159/0/en/Augmented-and-Virtual-Reality-Market-To-Reach-454-73-Billion-By-2030-Allied-Market-Research.html
Belch, Derek. (2020, June 8). How VR can make the workplace measurably safer. EHS Today. Retrieved from https://www.ehstoday.com/safety-technology/article/21133344/how-vr-can-make-the-workplace-measurably-safer
Dick, Ellysse. (2021, August 30). The promise of immersive learning: Augmented and virtual reality’s potential in education. Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Retrieved from https://itif.org/publications/2021/08/30/promise-immersive-learning-augmented-and-virtual-reality-potential
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Proust, M. (1988). La Prisonnière. Paris: Gallimard.
Richter, F. (2021, February 5). Superbowl pales in comparison to the biggest game in soccer. Statista. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/chart/16875/super-bowl-viewership-vs-world-cup-final/
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The Franklin Institute. (2019, December 18). What is augmented reality? The Franklin Institute. Retrieved from https://www.fi.edu/what-is-augmented-reality
The Franklin Institute. (2019, December 19). History of virtual reality. The Franklin Institute. Retrieved from https://www.fi.edu/virtual-reality/history-of-virtual-reality
Witkowski, W. (2021, January 2). Videogames are a bigger industry than movies and North American sports combined, thanks to the pandemic. Market Watch. Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/videogames-are-a-bigger-industry-than-sports-and-movies-combined-thanks-to-the-pandemic-11608654990