Extended reality is expected to be a $300 billion market by 2024, and it’s growing in both size and sophistication. Much of this is because of advancements in hand- and eye-tracking capabilities. Hand-tracking is already widely available on devices like Magic Leap 1, Microsoft’s HoloLens2, and even Meta’s Quest 2, providing a more immersive digital experience than ever before. Advances in eye-and-hand-tracking technologies will enrich XR.
Emerging XR Technologies for Eye-and-Hand-Tracking
Now new headsets are coming out (such as those using the Tobil SDK) that incorporate eye-tracking directly into the device. That gives developers an entirely new way to connect with the user by using eye movement as an input for applications.
Better Analytics in Training Applications
The XR tech headsets also allow for better analytics, especially in training applications for medical, educational, or job-related purposes, as the administrative team can measure attention and track engagement.
Going even further, HP developed the Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition that can track eye movement and a range of other indicators such as heart rates, muscle movements, facial expressions, and changes in pupil size.
Greater Insight into User Experiences in Virtual Reality
These advances will give even greater insight into user experiences in virtual reality. In addition, they will allow for applications that adjust in real-time to the way a user is feeling or reacting.
In short: The metaverse is coming, and it involves a lot of sensors.
Making XR More Accessible
Having developed immersive training applications for high-stakes situations such as security, I can easily see how additional sensory measurements could take the experience a step further, providing both the trainee and the trainer with valuable information.
We recently developed an application for a private client that guides users through meditation. In allowing the user to control the experience with their gaze instead of controllers, we ensured greater ease for patients who may be dealing with chronic pain, illness, or disability.
The inability to express yourself in the real world shouldn’t translate to the digital world.
By increasing accessibility, we can help a more significant number of people use VR to improve their quality of life, regardless of health challenges and physical ability.
How Do We Create an Immersive VR World?
Making an immersive world is as simple as creating a more immersive VR world that you can engage in while using only your eyes.
And accessibility doesn’t just help the disabled — it makes the experience better for everybody.
XR in Everyday Life
XR opens a whole new world of experiences to all, regardless of physical ability.
Enrich Your Life With an Immersive Experience
People of all ages and capabilities can enrich their lives with immersive experiences that provide utility, comfort, or entertainment (or a compelling combination of all three).
In our everyday lives, we’ll see experiences that transcend the boundaries of age and physical ability. As a result, more users can enrich their lives with these immersive experiences. And as these experiences allow for greater accessibility, they’ll also mold to our reactions and biological feedback to create tailored applications for each user.
XR in the Workplace
By making changes in real-time, we can create a new era of VR experiences that are more comfortable and useful across a broad spectrum of users. There are three ways we’re already seeing it appear in the workplace:
1. Enable Immersive Training
In an office setting (or even remotely), we’ll see increased use of VR applications enabling employees to practice skills with little to no risk and better prepare for their roles.
Immersive training provides hard skills while improving employee confidence and output, speed, and efficiency.
This type of training will be incredibly impactful for those in potentially dangerous fields such as law enforcement, electrical repair, and construction.
For example, immersive modules can be used for self-guided training on complex situations these professionals may face in the field. Practicing in VR puts them in real-world situations without the real-world risk, allowing them to hone their reactions with less pressure.
2. Provide More Data
Incorporating augmented-reality experiences in the workplace can give employees more data and knowledge to inform their work and produce better outcomes for the company. Instead of using them as simple stopgap measures in virtual work, they can become a more efficient route for business processes like prototyping.
A platform called Sim-Lab enables this powerful functionality. Users can prototype everything from vehicles to mounting equipment on this flexible virtual platform. In addition, medical settings can leverage XR for more dynamic care plans that allow patients to progress at their own speed with progress tracked through data.
3. Build Strong Team Culture With Tracking Technologies
It’s much more than hard skills; XR also provides soft-skills training for leadership, collaboration, or even required courses on sexual harassment. We see this already in platforms like Meta’s Horizon Workrooms, enabling virtual meetings and presentations that feel like you’re all in the room together.
To that end, XR could be the solution for the erosion of company culture that occurred when the pandemic popularized the remote workplace.
It provides an immersive space that can be used for collaboration, brainstorming, and productivity.
Extending Your Reality With Eye-and-Hand Tracking Technologies
XR has clear benefits, and they’ll be achieved through a bevy of sensors that collect data and react in real-time to everything we do.
In nature, every facial expression, glance, and movement has a meaning, and it’s only natural that these contextual interactions translate into the virtual world.
As eye-tracking, hand-tracking, and other body-tracking technologies continue to improve, so will the user experience across the full range of XR applications.
It won’t be long before XR is ubiquitous in our society, and there’s no better time to dip your toe in the virtual world than now.
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