The quality of XR experiences will depend on fast data access and low latency, which means organizations will need to rethink how data is stored.
Nothing accelerates change like a crisis. The Corona pandemic has forced many companies to innovate to support their employees and customers. For many, the acceleration of digital transformation has led to new or expanded adoption of extended reality (XR) technologies, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). By definition, these technologies support the human-centric digital approach to customer engagement that we are all working towards, but with a caveat. Pure Storage explains the technology requirements and associated implications for data storage.
What is XR and why is it interesting?
XR technologies can be an effective way to engage employees and customers when face-to-face interactions can be difficult. Bravo, XR can also be very entertaining and interesting.
XR apps immerse users in a virtual world (VR) or add a layer of 3D (AR) content to the environment. Some XR experiences offer a bit of both – it’s Mixed Reality (MR) and best encapsulates the concept of XR.
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And the metaverse?
There is now a new frontier for developing deeper XR experiences: the metaverse. This online world is described as “a combination of several technological elements (…) in which users ‘live’ in a digital universe” (a recent live in-game music event featuring singer Ariana Grande gave an overview of the possibilities of this new virtual world).
XR could therefore be an important sandbox for marketers to evolve campaigns and how we distribute content. This includes not only a metaverse of real and virtual experiences, but also Web 3.0 (aka “Web3”), a new version of the internet based on blockchain technology and “where people control their own data and… social media to email to shop from one personalized account.
Why (and how) XR will take off
Major tech companies are competing to build and own part of the metaverse. Facebook, which changed its name to “Meta” to demonstrate its commitment to “bringing the Metaverse to life,” is working on a haptic feedback glove to add tactile sensations to AR and VR environments in the Metaverse.
However, the exponential spending expected for XR isn’t just due to the new “Space Race” in the Metaverse. Industry 4.0 and the trend towards digital transformation are also important factors. The XR market is expected to reach $333.16 billion by 2025, from $42.55 billion in 2020. The VR and AR market will continue to grow, selling 71 million devices by 2025, compared to 11 million in 2021. The adoption of augmented reality in business is also expected. grow by 66% per year until 2026.
It’s remarkable but not shocking. More and more people feel comfortable interacting in virtual worlds in everyday life and at work. Education, healthcare, retail and real estate are recent examples. They all use or plan to use some form of XR for training and development opportunities, better employee collaboration, or customer experiences. Leading companies like Amazon, Boeing, Walmart, and UPS are using augmented reality and virtual reality for employee education and training programs. Now that 5G, cloud and edge computing are dominating, it may not be long before XR becomes mainstream.
How XR consumes and integrates with data-intensive resources
XR technologies require a lot of data. XR developers use other technologies that also have an insatiable appetite for data, such as:
- 5G networks: XR will continue to evolve as 5G networks advance. Futurist Bernard Marr notes that the benefits of 5G for XR “are not just faster data transfers, but also the ability to leverage different types of data and services required for XR, making VR and wireless and cloud-based AR.”
- Machine Learning (ML): Artificial intelligence (AI) and ML algorithms are used to automatically generate content in VR games, called “procedural content generation”.
- Internet of Things: Energy, manufacturing, law enforcement, and military organizations have integrated AR and the Internet of Things (IoT) for applications ranging from predictive maintenance to monitoring.
- Neural networks: Immersive 3D, AR and VR data visualizations can take data storytelling to the next level. The Stanford Computational Imaging Lab has developed algorithms that use neural networks to create a “holographic neural system” that produces realistic, high-quality AR and VR visualizations.
The catch is that legacy infrastructure can’t support XR
The quality of XR experiences will increase with faster data access and lower latency. The move to 5G means more bandwidth for streaming, more reliable connectivity, and the ability to deliver engaging experiences to users in more places.
The basis of XR innovation is modern data storage solutions. XR technologies use a large amount of data and companies need to rethink their data storage if they want to deliver optimal XR experiences to users today. It’s not even about preparing for what lies ahead, even in the metaverse. Even the Internet will need a new architectural model to support the metaverse, which would require “ten petaflops of processing power and ten petabytes of storage in ten milliseconds” to operate.
A company may not need to support the Metaverse, but if senior management wants their company to fully participate in the future of XR, they won’t get there with legacy infrastructure.