AWE XR USA 2022: Key Insights on Technology Innovations — XR and Metaverse

In Summary
- AWE XR USA 2022, both in-person and virtual (Santa Clara, CA, USA).
- Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), Extended Reality (XR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Bio-Interfaces, Haptics.
- The transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0.
The opening speech by Ori Inbar, the Co-Founder of AWE (June 1, 2022). Ori Inbar shared how XR is making dreams a reality and announced a USD 100K XR Prize that challenges the industry to fight climate change with XR.

Defining Metaverse

As of June 7, 2022, there is no clear definition of Metaverse in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, America’s most trusted online dictionary for English word definitions, meanings, and pronunciation. The search for Metaverse returned, “The word you’ve entered isn’t in the dictionary.” There may still be no clear definition in the near future as the field is still a work in progress.

Oxford Languages definition for Metaverse.

Highlights of AWE 2022

  • Unity’s Chief Executive Officer, John Riccitiello offered his own definition of the ‘Metaverse’. According to John: “50% of World Games and 60% of AR/VR experiences are built on the Unity platform”. He continued by defining Metaverse as the “Next generation of the Internet that is (1) always real-time, and (2) mostly 3D, (3) mostly interactive, (4) mostly social, and (5) mostly persistent.
Unity’s CEO offered his own definition of the ‘Metaverse’.
  • Qualcomm’s Hugo Swart announced the global release of the company’s Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform.
Qualcomm enables a seamless integration from the smart glasses to various “hosts”, e.g. mobile phones, cars, routers, or the cloud. Presented during his main stage presentation “Your Ticket to the Metaverse: Spatial Computing Experiences with Snapdragon Spaces and What’s Next in XR”.
  • Haptx allowed attendees to experience haptic by inviting them to be within the experience itself through sensing (experiencing real realism in interacting with 3D virtual objects in the virtual world — as if we are interacting physically with the actual objects themselves). Haptic gloves have 133 points of tactile feedback per hand. The gloves provide industry-grade performance targeted for professional applications.
A conference participant is experiencing Haptx at AWE USA 2022.
  • Hololight — The platform to host and stream XR applications to XR devices, bringing the power of the cloud to mobile devices. This is a kind of Netflix for AR and VR applications.
Hololight — enables streaming of AR and VR applications direct to the AR/VR headsets.
  • “MetaTr@versal: A Day in the Life”: A Play About Humanity in the Metaverse!. The session illustrates the new reality in real-time by embracing immersive technologies, and telling the story of a day in the life of Sophia as she traverses the Metaverse to create meaningful memories with her friends and family and creates hyper-connective pathways to excel in her career from anywhere in the world.
The Metaverse connects us virtually. It bridges the physical space between us so we can be together, wherever we are.
  • Magic Leap demonstrated Magic Leap 2, the latest wearable targeted for Enterprise. It is not yet available for purchase. Magic Leap received a Best in Show AR award. Another exhibitor that received this award was OVR for Best Healthcare & Wellness Solution (Osso VR: Virtual Reality Surgical Training Platform). Other awards are discussed later in this article.
The Author is experiencing Magic Leap 2 smart glass by coming in person at AWE USA 2022.
  • Snap announced its first AR Lensathon with a Global Overall First Place prize of USD 50K.
  • Signify, Phillip’s company explained Lifi technology (it uses light to transfer data), an alternative to Wifi for line sight of communication enabling very high speed e.g. 250–1000 MBps (Yes, you are reading this correctly. It is the big “B”, meaning MegaBytes per second, not Megabits per seconds).
Trulifi, a Lifi Technology by Signify.
  • Smart Glasses — It All Starts With the Display. Near Eye display for AR Eyewear by Dispelix is the enabling technology for many applications such as Microsoft Hololens, and Magic Leap wearable.
  • Tiktok shared Effect House, enabling designers, developers, and creators to build AR effects and experiences on TikTok. Several creators were invited early to share their exciting initial experiences with the Effect House in the last few weeks. In addition to AR, Effect house is powered heavily by AI — especially in computer vision.
Tiktok Effect House.
  • Meta’s AR Eyewear demonstrated advancements in optics (e.g. realistic 3D display on mobile phones, television, game, etc) that can “promote” 2D content to 3D content, creating a rich perception for the human eye. At the moment, the display size can be as large as 27 inches.
  • NASA’s Marco Tempest demonstrated the magic of AR in real-time (Metaverse in a Box) —Marco received an Awesome award for the awesome and interactive demonstration.
Part of the demonstration, doing a virtual tour by “teleporting” to Mars in virtual reality.
Panel discussion on “The Metaverse Protagonist: Storytelling Techniques for AR Entertainment”.
Sponsors at AWE USA 2022.

Looking Ahead

Technologies have been steadily moving forward with a lot of successful innovations along the way. The advancements are getting faster and faster. Many of the readers may not remember or even be aware that there was a mainframe era that was very popular as the main computation engine in the 1960s-1970s, with its well-known green-screen applications. Well, mainframes are still operating now managing several of the most complex banking or credit card systems in the world, for example.

Web 2.0 to Web 3.0

Nowadays, the interactive web (web 2.0) has been part of our lives, accessible mostly from mobile smartphones. In one of the panel discussions in AWE, it was said that user access through mobile has been the majority, about 80% — the important insight when designing content for web and mobile.

The transition from Web 2.0 (current Internet) to Web 3.0 (Immervise Experience, e.g. Metaverse).

The Challenge of Delivering 3D Content by Streaming

Most of us have been enjoying Netflix for watching the on-demand movie without being aware of the complex infrastructure that Netflix has built in order to provide convenient streaming services (2D content). On the other hand, streaming GigaBytes and TerraBytes bandwidth-hungry 3D content have been a real challenge for network infrastructure. Take Meta Oculus Quest 2 for example, some of the best high-quality 3D content (including Games) are best experienced locally by first downloading the content to the device and then watching or playing, instead of streaming the 3D content directly from the cloud to the VR device.

Key delivery bottlenecks (e.g. the huge bandwidth requirement) and what technological advancements are being made and some case examples of recent metaverse implementations.

Intellectual Property (IP)

Businesses that have been heavily investing in Intellectual Property e.g. patents may be in a better position to be successful in the later future if the patents are adopted and widely used in multiple products and implementations. For XR, investment in patents can potentially be in the hardware, enabling firmware or software, or even in business software applications for example.

VR180 vs VR360

One of the panel discussions in AWE also kind of debated whether it would be better to create more VR180 or VR360 content for the future, considering the potential adoption of the user. I would be more toward VR180 as human eyes are designed to view the environment at 180 degrees rather than 360 degrees. The content (e.g. for the cinematic experience, a film) with mostly VR180 (say 70–80%) and occasionally with VR360 (20–30%) may be the best combination.

Interoperability — OpenXR and WebXR

OpenXR defines the standard and API for all XR-based devices, so developers won’t have to customize their products for each new device in the future. WebXR does the same, by integrating devices into the browsers. Interoperability will be the key to the advancements of XR in the future to come.

Building The Real-world Applications

In the majority, the gaming & entertainment industry has been adopting XR-based applications, so far. Other industries like enterprise, retail, e-commerce, advertising, healthcare & wellness, training & education, and banking are catching up with various business implementable business use cases by leveraging the advancements in XR technologies.

Notes on AR, VR, MR, and XR

To align ourselves with the terms, let’s have a quick look at the definition for each of them.

References

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