XR Celebrates Industry Revival at AWE USA 2023

Industry conversation on the Metaverse and XR has also fuelled discussions across the Augmented World Expo (AWE) USA 2023. Numerous executives and officials have rallied the global tech community to sustain the momentum of a renaissance of immersive technologies.

Following mainstream media coverage of the Metaverse, stating that it was ‘dead’ and no longer viable, companies and experts across the industry have begun pushing back against the mainstream narrative.

XR Today recently offered insights on the Metaverse to counter negative media reports on the platform’s alleged demise. The article received a groundswell of support from the global tech industry, backing the new discourse.

Ori Inbar, Founder, Super Ventures and Co-founder and CEO, AWE kicked off the event with a ChatGPT-powered avatar presentation. His presentation would set the tone for the resurging XR sector.

We Repeat: The Metaverse Is Not Dead

Inbar’s avatar told audiences that augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies were “no longer buzzwords,” but had become “an integral part of our daily lives.”

He explained that XR had become a thriving industry, transforming verticals such as healthcare, entertainment, education, and gaming. Such tools had “the potential to shape the future of humanity.”

Following the demo, the real-life Inbar explained that he aimed to tackle the narrative in the mainstream media that the Metaverse was “dead.”

He instead noted that XR was “hard,” adding that it was based on optics and did not follow Moore’s Law. Despite this, innovation and XR hardware were moving “at breaking speed.”

The Year of AR and VR

The real-life speaker then explained that new headsets would offer a wider range of options, including “smaller, better, [and] cooler” headsets and wearables.

Speaking on the upcoming Apple Reality Pro headset, he explained how Lucky Palmer, Founder, Oculus said Apple’s device was “excellent.” Timing for the device’s release was also “perfect,” he continued.

Explaining further, he added,

“Not to be outdone, the Google-Samsung-Qualcomm power trio is cooking a comeback of their very famous mega Android partnership with a new XR headset. This week ,we heard that the market leader is not staying idle and is coming up with a better, faster Quest 3 with Snapdragon XR2+ inside as its number one improvement, better video passthrough.

For him, 2023 would signal the ‘Year of AR and VR,’ which he stated would arrive “just in time for the holidays.”

Inbar added that creating efficient user experiences (UX) and tech culture created challenges.

Putting things over our heads is weird, which is true […] Even umbrellas took 200 years until they became culturally accepted by British men. I think that XR will be much faster.

Difficulty in finding use cases for XR technologies was “complete nonsense,” Inbar said, citing XR pioneer Tom Furness and his classified military work revealed on CBS News.

He said,

“Everybody started calling the surgeon asking to overlay CT scans on their patient’s body. A firefighter wanting to navigate a smoke-filled building. A mother looking for treatment for her child with cerebral palsy. Factories, teachers, engineers… they knew exactly the use cases they needed”

37 years after Dr Furness’ initial work, the AWE USA 2023 would showcase over 1,000 XR use cases at the event. These would argue for a strong return on investment cases for XR technologies across “every vertical,” he explained.

XR Layoffs to Landings

Speaking further on diminishing investments and waves of layoffs across the tech sector, Inbar noted that the “overall economy has slowed down and investors across the board are more cautious.”

Despite this, fundamentals for the XR industry “remain good [and] XR startups still get funded.” He added that the AWE 2023 hosted 435 startups at its event, which would help over 100 job seekers land their next job.

He added: “We all know it wasn’t necessarily due to XR’s failure, but due to excessive hiring during the pandemic right now. It’s actually the perfect timing to find a new job in XR or to start a new company.”

The event would also award $100,000 USD to a winning individual to develop solutions to tackle climate change. According to the AWE, it’s XR Prize Challenge: Fight Climate Change would invite submissions from teams, individual creators, and collaborators. The winning submission would demonstrate “a creative, functional, and impactful XR-based solution to help humanity in our fight against climate change.”

AI and XR to Accelerate Industry Growth

Inbar highlighted the synergies between XR and artificial intelligence (AI), despite the latter eclipsing the former in the mainstream media.

He said at the time that “some say AI is eating XR’s lunch, sucking up all the attention and funding.” However, AI was a “good thing for XR and accelerates XR,” he added, noting examples of how AI could instantly generate content across immersive technologies.

As “the interface for AI,” XR technologies incorporating it would rely less on text and prompts, shifting more to spatial computing for natural interactions.

Wrapping up his discussion, Inbar stated that the “passionate community of creators, developers, and engineers” had fuelled the industry’s successes. Both purposeful intent and global economic opportunities “in the trillions” would also support XR’s development.

He concluded,

“We know we have some way to go and it will require even more passion, patience and perseverance. Plus, to get there, we depend on each other. We compete, but we collaborate even more. This community is special and we understand each other. This epic journey we’re on has generated empathy for each other, and that’s the spirit of AWB.”

AWE 2023 Fireside Chat with Neal Stephenson

Following the presentation, Inbar segued to a fireside chat with Acclaimed Author and Lamina1 Founder, Neal Stephenson. In his talks, the icon discussed the progress of the platform, citing examples from his book ‘Snow Crash.’

Stephenson segued into the complexities of gaming engines and tools used to power XR technologies. He also highlighted the dramatic changes in the industry, with barriers to entry diminishing for content creators.

He said,

“Even a few years ago you’d be looking at dropping thousands of dollars on licenses for software packages, but now you can pick up Blender for free, and you can learn to use it for free. It is interesting to look back 3, 4, or 5 years and see how much has changed in that time and to see the essential building blocks of the metaverse are all snapping into place and all becoming available to us.”

The Metaverse: Experiences Worth Having

Regarding Lamina1, Stephenson said that a Metaverse “used all the time by millions or billions of people” would require “experiences that are worth having.”

Despite the potential, Stephenson told Inbar that there was a massive shortfall of support for content creators. Skill sets required to build and develop Metaverse creative content relied heavily on the gaming industry.

He called on the industry to incentivise content creation to reward developers to realise the Metaverse fully.

The Metaverse visionary concluded,

“There are lots of ways that you can do that, that tend to follow a centralized model. At lamina1, there is a big overlap in things like blockchain, and the requirements for content creators to actually get paid for what they do. That in a nutshell is what were building at Lamina1.”

The AWE USA 2023 is one of the world’s premier events for showcasing solutions across XR and is taking place from 31 May to June 2. Leading global firms such as telecoms, solutions providers, and big tech companies will attend the event.

Representatives from Meta Platforms, Google, Magic Leap, Unity, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the XR Association (XRA), and many others will deliver keynotes and presentations.

Experts and thought leaders across all verticals and markets have joined the Expo. Many have hosted panel discussions, demos, and presentations for the three-day event.


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