In early 2019, I described the Three Focus Themes for the year. They were Acceleration, Convergence, and Possibilities. Little did I know that one of those themes would factor so prominently in 2020. In a recent Presentation, Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas – a full-service, bipartisan government relations firm – describes 2020 as the year where forces already in play experience a great acceleration. One of those forces is mixed reality.
The pandemic represents both challenge and opportunity – and for augmented reality and virtual reality startups – it is an opportunity. This Article by Josh O’Kane indicates that startups are surging ahead in the race to replace or replicate real life. Several sectors like retail, real estate, and resources are embracing mixed reality. Real estate companies for example are doing virtual open houses to give prospective buyers pandemic-safe home tours. As described by the article, companies of all kinds are using it for workplace training and medical professionals are adapting it for both training and remote work.
A Next Generation of Education is likely to emerge faster, as immersive training capabilities advance. This also applies to the business world, as articulated by Lorne Fade, co-founder of Toronto’s VR Vision Inc.: “As businesses push classroom training to the wayside, this is a way to do collaborative learning remotely.” In the medical community, the shift is enabling surgery simulation in a virtual environment. Danny Goel – CEO of Precision OS Technology Inc. said this: “We never had the ability to fail in a safe, low-risk environment.” He describes how the pandemic has forced a reduction in the number of people who can enter operating rooms, preventing some health care professionals from real-life training opportunities. The company uses Facebook’s Oculus Quest headset to enable surgery simulation.
Major players like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are investing in the space. The implications of a mixed reality acceleration are broad. The focus on learning is just one of many domains impacted. As the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds blur, what does it mean for how we live as humans? Just one more step towards a Third Tipping Point.