XR, Metaverse to Reshape the Human Connection
As 2022 comes to a close, much of the tech industry has seen spectacular ups and downs. Despite this, extended reality (XR) has made tremendous growth in some technological advancements and reached key milestones in immersive human connectivity across the immersive sector.
The Immerse Global Summit 2022 Miami has rallied many top brands across the tech industry to reflect on both its achievements and setbacks. Many enterprises have used the Summit for dialogue, scrutiny, and major reveals for spatial computing solutions.
XR Today spoke to Jay Latta, CEO and Founder of the Strategic Intelligence for New Technologies (STINT), speaker, and futurist. He is also an Emerging Technology Strategist with more than 35 years of experience across industrial and enterprise-based information technologies (IT).
We discussed ongoing trends in virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality (VR/AR/MR/XR). We also explored emerging technologies and the ‘human connection’ across the tech industry.
XR Today: Can you tell me about your experience with the IGS 2022 Miami and your best takeaways?
Jay Latta: The IGS is a very interesting conference because it’s very much like a family. This increased greatly after the pandemic, and the first eight years I’ve attended had already built a strong community.
It has taken a highly-curated, familial approach where everyone understands one another. We are the same creatives [focused on] being together and talking with each other. Most importantly, we talk about things [and] simply work on solutions to deliver what is most beneficial for the world.
XR Today: Which emerging trends should we expect for the industry in 2023?
Jay Latta: 2023 is just around the corner, so not much at the beginning, but we can expect a huge rush from companies to do something in the Metaverse despite not fully understanding it.
I’m expecting things to normalise and people to understand what the Metaverse really is. Regarding technologies and breakthroughs, there are several ongoing experiments in augmented reality contact lenses. We can expect at least additional working prototype displays by the end of 2023, which can really offer a glimpse of what these devices will look like.
There are also several rumours about Apple’s upcoming MR headset. We can expect them to set a benchmark, and many new players will enter to fill in the necessary gaps.
I’m also expecting greater moves towards haptics to enhance our immersive experiences. My favourite is also brain-computer interfaces (BCI). I know one startup that has begun creating something in bidirectional BCI, and in the next 10 years, it could even replace VR headsets with direct feedback.
XR Today: What could you tell us about tech firms leveraging AI to enhance machine and human connectivity?
Jay Latta: Regarding technology, artificial intelligence (AI) is an augmentation of it to help humans become a better version of themselves. If corporations control AI, it’s much more uncertain.
Many in the industry are calling for a decentralised internet, which it already is, but the content has been centralised. This is the issue, especially if it’s the usual suspects.
We need to democratise content, algorithms, data ownership, and data sovereignty. Only then can we use all of these technologies for the good and not for profit.
XR Today: Where do you see XR technologies and the Metaverse heading, and which use cases should we expect in the near future?
Jay Latta: I normally describe XR as a cake with five ‘technology layers.’ We’re very visually orientated and need to see things to understand them. Then you have artificial intelligence (AI), the predictive future modelling layer that makes sense of our data.
There’s also data choreography, linked to big data processing for connected devices. There’s also data connectivity, and many users don’t consider where their data comes from. Is it real-time, replicated, already enriched, or immutable data that allows me to trust it or determine if it has been moved?
You can also use blockchain technologies that use high-end cryptography. As soon as companies and others working with these concepts start to understand this cake and take a ‘piece’ as its own business or vertical. Many are wearing horse blinders, where we just see ourselves and have to stay informed. Sometimes we get impulses from radically different silos, and then magic happens.
This is why XR is so important. It makes things explainable and guides the industry to new use cases. I’m a huge fan of human-centricity, where machines meet our needs and not the other way around. Most people will simply say that XR allows them to perform better in their jobs or social interactions.
XR and Rethinking the Human Connection
Imagine that, during the pandemic, if governments preached physical distancing rather than social distancing. Many omitted the social layer. Regarding user-centricity, that would have been the killer app for a company to develop an optical counterpart to a search engine such as Google.
Rather than using a search box to type in queries, the internet could have a digital twin of a virtual library for information.
We can remember the physical and visual details of the book while taking samples on pages and scrolling through content. If we could manage this with the help of XR, we could potentially accelerate and completely revolutionise how and where we conduct searches. This would be amazing for data sets.
Imagine using these in 3D environments, where we’re not just using two-dimensional objects, but our informational resources have spatial properties to them. This is human behaviour, and XR and its use cases will help us to stay human in the process.