As we kick off 2024, the industrial landscape is buzzing with the electricity of innovation. Last year laid the groundwork, with a surge of companies not just flirting with Augmented and Virtual Reality (XR), but committing to it wholeheartedly. From the shop floor to the C-suite, immersive technologies are poised to go mainstream, with industry giants and startups alike harnessing the power of XR to reshape the way we think about work, collaboration, and innovation. Here are our XR predictions that promise not only breakthrough applications, but tangible returns on investment.
1. XR Goes Mainstream in Industry
The market for spatial computing and immersive technologies gained significant momentum in 2023, and we’ll see that acceleration continue in 2024. What we’re seeing now in the industrial XR space is that a lot of companies have now tried and evaluated the technology and are now starting to actively move towards XR. Whereas before, a lot of companies were just considering the technology, now they have the plan in place, they know what they want to do. They know how they’re going to use it.
On the hardware side, we have seen the Meta Quest 3 headset impress with its cutting-edge features and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces XR platform set new standards. For 2024, the launch of Apple Vision Pro will further benefit the world of B2B, enterprise, and industrial immersive technologies and use cases. Apple’s headset won’t just help advance consumer mixed reality applications. It will also appeal to the industrial mixed reality market by providing an advanced spatial computing capability that blends real-world and digital visuals.
Apple isn’t just good at making products – it’s also good at creating awareness of what can be done with the technology and making people aware of the potential. It’s up to us to build on that and continue the evolution of technology in the B2B space.
2. A Breakthrough Year for ROI in Industrial XR
2024 will be the year when we see not just a handful of companies seeing some ROI from industrial immersive technologies, but many companies starting to see massive ROI. Unlike technologies where the path to ROI is long, XR is one of the fastest, easiest to deploy, and one where ROI is seen extremely quickly. We’re going to see as much ROI on the B2B side of immersive technologies as we do on the consumer side.
We will see many companies and industry players start to overcome some of the barriers to implementing immersive experiences. The first step that companies need to overcome is to get the commitment and excitement of the end user. They need to show how it will benefit them – how it will make their lives easier. The next step is working with IT to overcome concerns about infrastructure, integration and security. At the end of the day, it’s the people who maintain it and the people who use it that will decide whether it’s successful or not.
Manufacturing, in particular, will continue to make headlines when it comes to innovation around XR use cases. Competition is fierce in this market because many companies are building similar things, so speed to market is critical. 3D is helping to accelerate prototype design and delivery, and as a result, manufacturers have made immersive technology integration a priority.
3. Streaming on 5G/6G Networks Will Enable New Use Cases
In 2024, we’ll see mobile service providers make real progress in implementing XR streaming at scale in 5G networks, achieving lower latency and improved efficiency. We’re already seeing this being deployed by several providers in the form of Low Latency Low Scalable Throughput (L4S), which ensures that data packets are transported quickly and smoothly through the network, and that latency-critical, high data-rate applications run smoothly and without delay over 5G. It’s truly the future of smooth and stable streaming of XR applications with a high number of active users.
In 2024, enterprises will use XR streaming to work with very complex data. Without streaming, the B2B application of immersive technologies won’t advance – there would be too much compromise on visual quality or too much time spent preparing content. Streaming is the only way companies can successfully pursue XR use cases without compromising. As Extended Reality (XR) streaming improves, we’ll see more new use cases across all types of businesses and industries. However, in 2024, aerospace and defense will continue to be at the forefront of leveraging immersive experiences with their unparalleled commitment to data security. These industries truly understand the critical role that XR streaming can play in cybersecurity.
With its ability to handle large amounts of generated data at low latency, 6G will continue to drive spatial computing and help it reach its full potential. We’ll see a big boost in the power of virtual and augmented reality design spaces. These will be powered by cloud-rendered extended reality (XR) services to create fully immersive experiences. In 2024, this combination of 6G and XR cloud streaming will really take off to deliver more powerful spatial computing experiences.
4. Will it be the Metaverse or Spatial Computing?
A topic of debate remains whether the term “Industrial Metaverse” won’t go away, or whether we’ll hear more about spatial computing and much less about the metaverse. While it is important to define the term to make the technology easier to understand, the focus going forward should be on the practical applications and value these technologies bring to businesses and consumers alike.
In 2024, the focus should shift from what we call these advances to how they can be effectively used to solve real-world problems. Ironically, many people in our industry don’t like the term Industrial Metaverse, but it’s the one that seems to be being used to describe the actual infrastructure for B2B immersive technologies as a system for business use. By 2024, we hope to be able to show the world that the Industrial Metaverse is actually a unique collaboration between companies that are already heavily invested in immersive technologies and are using them to collaborate at a higher level of security and detail than many people realize is possible.
The convergence of AR, VR and Mixed Reality within the Industrial Metaverse and Spatial Computing provides unprecedented opportunities for innovation across multiple industries. Whether enhancing remote collaboration, facilitating complex design tasks, or providing immersive training environments, the true measure of the success of these technologies will be their ability to drive efficiencies, improve processes, and create tangible benefits. Therefore, the real significance lies not in the terminology we use to describe these digital realms, but in their ability to revolutionize the way we work and interact with the world around us.