How startups are using XR to change the way we work, learn and play

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT, blockchain and machine learning are pushing our organizations to grow rapidly, increasing our ability to process data, create products, and automate repetitive tasks.

Andy Lurling, (diario la nacion) founding partner at results-driven venture capital firm LUMO Labs, believes this shift will open the way for us to find new and better solutions to some of society's biggest problems.

“If you want to quickly influence society, technology is for you. For example, with the help of artificial intelligence and data, you can find patterns much faster and propose thousands of alternatives that will take people years to develop. "

But in our data-driven era, there is one young technology that can (ironically) help us humanize the future of technology.

XR technology is based on enhancing the human experience by bringing our senses together. This helps to not only make the experience more realistic, but also make it more individualized and emotional.

“Take the digital twin of a city, for example, where you can see all the possibilities at a glance, rather than just looking at a spreadsheet. You may be asking yourself, "What would be the effect if there are 10,000 fewer ambulances in the city?" If you simulate the experience of being there instead, it will trigger another part of your brain that also involves emotions. ”

“In the table, it's just a number, but if you're in virtual reality where you can see the real effect, you may have a different result,” he said.

Speaking with Lurling at Today's Reality's ISE Rise Spotlight XR event, he shared five examples of startups from a variety of industries that are leveraging the power of XR to solve some of society's biggest challenges.

Training 4.0

Education, whether in the classroom or in the workplace, has long needed interruptions.

“We are still in an education system that was designed for the industrial revolution, but now we are at 4.0 and we are still taught mainly from textbooks. But now the world is changing so quickly (especially the world of technology) that after the publication of the book, it quickly becomes out of date, ”said Lurling.

This years’ experience of having to learn and work from home really pushed many companies and educational institutions to start using this technology for the first time, and once you sense the potential benefits it can bring, it is unlikely to slow down. Research by PwC has shown that VR students:

  • Train 4x faster than in class
  • 275% more confident in applying the skills learned after training
  • 4x more targeted than their e-learning peers

The study also found that, due to greater immersion in the learning process, VR students are 3.75 times more emotionally connected to content than classroom students. And this emotional connection can make a huge difference when it comes to truly understanding and preserving knowledge.

In the harsh and rapidly changing environment that healthcare workers face every day, staying on top of workplace learning is extremely difficult. But this can be fatal. According to VR startup Virti, one of the leading causes of death worldwide is actually medical error.

The company is using on-demand virtual reality training to help improve accessibility, scalability and retention of knowledge in on-the-job training for healthcare professionals.

Rather than learning in class or by text, modeling (diario nacion) a patient care experience helps to increase the student's emotional connection with content and empathy, thereby significantly reducing the risk of medical error and improving patient safety.

And it's not just the medical industry that can benefit from XR technology.

With clients such as KLM, BBC and Gazprom, Warp VR helps educate workplace safety engineers, simulate sales training, and prepare staff for emergencies.

Imagine how nervous it would be to come to a board meeting and introduce your company's product for the first time? Rather than ditching newcomers in the sales industry, VR training can help provide a more realistic learning experience that prepares them for real-life work.

Using sensory reality to treat mental health

Around the world, billions of people suffer from mental disorders ranging from depression and anxiety to dementia. And leading experts from WHO, the Red Cross and academic institutions such as Harvard University have warned that Covid-19 will only exacerbate the problem, which could lead to a mental health crisis.

But XR technology opens up new possibilities and solutions. While we cannot fully understand what patients go through by combining sight, sound, smell and touch, psychologists and researchers have been able to simulate emotional experiences by helping them treat patients with various psychological conditions.

One company that has made particularly interesting strides in this area is Dutch Sensiks. They have teamed up with a clinical psychologist at the University of Amsterdam to help find new ways to treat phobias and the effects of emotional trauma, with a focus on patients with PTSD.

Thanks to their sensory reality modules, which go beyond visual effects and include heat, wind, airflow, shivering, light and sound effects, they were able to recreate the feeling of being in wartime or other traumatic situation.

This has helped patients to reveal their emotions during therapy sessions, and psychologists have been able to explore the effects of various treatments.

This year, they announced a new partnership to develop a short-term strategy for treating injured healthcare workers during COVID-19.

According to the company's philosophy: "What computer programming has done to digitize society and the economy over the past two decades is what Sensory Reality will do to understand and optimize the mental state of people."

Raising consumer personalization to a new level

This year, as consumers take refuge in their homes, we see more and more marketing teams starting to experiment with AR and VR technologies. From try-before-you-buy to extensive virtual product reviews that allow shoppers to see the fine details of a product before they drop it into their online shopping cart.

But Lurling thinks this is just the beginning. With upcoming budget cuts, advertisers will need to focus their spending on more targeted bids that will allow them to reach higher ROI thresholds. New technologies, which have received a significant boost from XR, will be key to the future of hyper-personalized advertising in our homes and on the streets.

One great example he shared was Tropos AR, an advertising solution that allows consumers to choose which types of products they are most interested in. The solution then uses a combination of AR and blockchain to publish personalized ads, discounts and coupons.

“Tropos AR uses the perfect combination of technologies. What they do really well is that they connect with the customer. When you go to the shopping street, you get all the ads. But Tropos makes it so that you only see the ads that interest you. "

Research shows that 43% of consumers are willing to embrace trade technology if it saves time and makes work easier. In fact, Shopify found products with AR content to have 94% higher conversion rates.

This means that instead of investing in a billboard that only a small fraction of your target audience can see on the main street, you can reach them directly with personalized ads. Thus, giving consumers control provides them with better, more personalized deals and a much higher ROI for companies.

The gamification of our physical health

For most of us, exercise is an annoying activity that no amount of sportswear or bouncy gym instructors can make even remotely enticing. But what if we could somehow really entertain the workout?

While the technology world has propelled us forward in many ways, it also has its drawbacks. The more time we spend in front of the screen, the less time we spend on the road.

“In 2019, (feriados 2021) the WHO published a report showing that 80% of young people develop conditions that are commonly seen in older people. And to a large extent that group includes players,”Lurling said.

In fact, the health organization recently added play disorder to its list of diseases. But he also believes the XR can provide some solutions that are much more fun than just hitting the track more often.

“If you bring a physical element to the game, you can create a Ready Player One-like environment,” Lurling said.

XR helps us expand our gaming experience by combining visuals with interactive touch games that track your body movements. And research shows that exergaming in virtual reality can actually increase pleasure and productivity.

The active sports arena in Eindhoven is one example. Their virtual games without wires and controllers are being used by companies to make team building activities and even brainstorming sessions more interactive.

Improving the XR experience

While XR helps us in many ways, in some cases, after extended periods of time, VR and AR technologies can cause eye strain, headaches, fatigue and nausea.

Since the flat 3D images we see in XR headsets don't actually contain real depth, our eyes can't naturally focus on and off them as they would with real-life images. But advances in so-called light field technology are helping to make XR images more lifelike and, of course, more comfortable on the eyes.

In a market dominated by tech giants like Facebook's Oculus, Swiss startup CREAL is creating some serious competition. Their light field technology improves the depth resolution of virtual objects, allowing them to more easily blend in with the real world. This not only provides a more immersive virtual experience, but also eliminates serious side effects and eye fatigue.

As we can see, XR is on the rise and is expected to gain momentum. While the market for AR and VR solutions was less than $ 12 million in 2019, ABI Research predicts it will surpass $ 400 million by 2025.

“I believe in the convergence of technologies and that in the future our solutions will combine things like AI, machine learning and blockchain, and XR is the way it is displayed,” Lurling said.

But while this technology has indeed been used this year to ease the transition to homework, education, patient care and more, he believes it will not replace our need for personal social interaction.

“In terms of learning, shopping and experience, it will continue to grow. But I believe that the social element will diminish after social distancing stops, because you cannot replace human ties. "

Want to know more about the latest technical tools and innovations? Sign up for the next RISE Spotlight and enjoy digital learning opportunities on January 15th at 3:00 pm CET.

Below you can find an official video showing some of the highlights of the first RISE Spotlight event at Workspace Evolution.