People from the 20th century envisioned the 21st century to have flying cars and time machines. But what actually happened is a lot different. We may not have flying cars yet, but the technology we managed to create could change the world as dramatically as the first AC/DC power supply and telephone did.
The biggest trends in technology revolve around artificial intelligence (AI) and immersive technology, which encompass augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed or hybrid reality (MR). The umbrella term for these three is extended reality (XR).
When AR and VR rose to the trends, we mainly associated them with video games. But now, these two technologies could also break into healthcare and other industries, and they are expected to revolutionize the world in the near future. Soon, surgeons may be able to operate with an AR device inside the operating room, and labs can create vaccines without human trials.
That said, let’s walk through the latest breakthroughs in immersive technology and AI that can make an impact across all industries.
1. Voice-enabled Devices
Voice-enabled devices like Alexa and Siri have been around for years, but they are still evolving. A sound branding company has predicted that we’ll see a surge in brands creating their own voice profiles in 2021. The voices will not sound robotic and artificial; instead, they will have a seamless blend of an actual human voice and a synthetic one. Moreover, AI-based “deep learning” will enable voice assistants to take on a life of their own so that they’d become closer than ever to a real person while remaining “on brand.”
2. 360-degree Audio
360-degree audio or immersive sound isn’t new either, being already used in gaming and movie production. But this year, we may be able to blast our Spotify playlists with booming and crisp 360-degree audio.
For now, marketers aren’t seizing immersive technology yet despite the growth of audio touchpoints. But now that people are spending more time at home, brands should keep up and take the chance to offer them unique experiences. By investing in cutting-edge xR production, brands can change the way consumers listen to music and watch YouTube videos.
3. XR and AI in Healthcare
XR and AI make healthcare safer and more accessible. In medical school, students can rely on digital assistance and simulators to study human anatomy, diseases, and drug development. Medical schools in the United States, Canada, and India are now using human-patient simulators that breathe, bleed, convulse, talk, and even “die” for their physiological and pharmacological procedures. This method replaces animal testing, making the medical and pharmaceutical industries much friendlier to animals.
Students training in emergency surgical procedures can also now use a system called TraumaMan, a machine with the image and likeness of a human torso. It breathes, bleeds, and has realistic layers of skin and tissue, as well as ribs and internal organs. This method has replaced the inhumane practice of cutting up live pigs, goats, or dogs.
More on AI, the development of the COVID-19 vaccine has a lot to do with the technology as well. Baidu developed an AI algorithm that optimizes mRNA sequences, which solves the problem of unstable and unproductive mRNA sequences in candidate vaccines. This process has sped up the completion of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As for XR, existing and newest developments such as VR headsets, Microsoft HoloLens, and others help surgeons receive virtual assistance while training or performing an operation. These technologies are equipped with eye-tracking gaze and gesture control, speech-to-action interaction, and more.
People from the 20th century also fantasized about the future having holographic images. They were right in that department. Through MR, Microsoft was able to create its own hologram device, the Microsoft HoloLens.
To explain MR or hybrid reality, it entails the application of digital objects in real-world environments so that they can co-exist and interact. It’s not the same as AR, which also places digital images in the real world but doesn’t make these two elements co-exist. In MR, users have to wear a headset, which isn’t always necessary in AR.
When you place an MR-powered digital object on a real-life object, like a table, you can move that object and interact with it in any way possible. As such, companies have started exploring ways to incorporate MR into their operations to make their businesses better.
Predictions state that by 2030, these amazing technologies could already become mainstream. So, if these developments have blown your mind, be prepared to see even more advancements in the future, where the things we never thought possible could be achieved. The things you read or hear in sci-fi might be closer to your reach than you thought.