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Hybrid Platforms in XR & 5 Ways They Can be Used Today

Authors: Alex Dzyuba, Lucid Reality Labs Founder & CEO

Table of Contents

Every day, we wonder what the future will bring. Regarding technology, some trends and developments are more evident than the others, as we could witness clear milestones that shaped them over time. Today, we would like to talk about one of such developments. These hybrid platforms had their stage set in majority by the global pandemic, 5G roll-out, global tech giants’ investment, and Extended Reality (XR) technology advancement.

When we talk about hybrid platforms, we are referring to the concept that connects physical and remote presence in one digitally enhanced virtual or real-life environment. It implies collaboration between users who are present on location and those interacting remotely, with both parties feeling physically present.

Today, we know several, primarily Virtual Reality (VR) platforms that enable users to collaborate in a virtual space, like Spatial, Engage, Glue, and partially AltspaceVR. They all carry functionality allowing users to collaborate and engage in a shared space regardless of location. We have also seen a Mixed Reality (MR) implementation enabled by Microsoft HoloLens 2 in a project that connected three surgeons from different physical locations in a common mixed-reality space to discuss a surgical procedure and ways to approach it. We’ve also seen enterprises like Xerox and Vuzix utilizing Augmented Reality (AR) in remote assistance and collaboration.

Even so far, we have only been able to engage in XR technology environments enabled by AR, VR, or MR. When it comes to a hybrid platform, the expectation is for it to have capabilities to connect all three of the XR technologies in a joined digitally enhanced environment. As promising as it sounds, the hybrid platforms are yet to reach their tip point of development. Nevertheless, we expect rapid growth in investment in technological development and adaptation by industries, which will help bring technology to the next level. The next-generation hybrid platform will enable immersive presence and photorealistic holoportation into a shared experience where holoportation refers to the new type of hyperrealistic 3D capture technology that allows reconstructing, compressing, and transmitting real-time models of people regardless of their physical location.

One of the biggest challenges for the next level of hybrid platform creation will be overcoming the User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) barrier. As the hybrid XR collaboration spaces will have to combine well with the real-world environments, elements of VR spatial design will play a significant role in how comfortable online and offline users feel within the same collaborative space, from ergonomics and affordance to intuitiveness and onboarding. That said, XR is the technology that will play a crucial role in making it possible to blur the boundaries between being physically and remotely present.

Creating the hybrid system will bring great opportunities; however, it can come with several challenges. On the one hand, it will allow users to connect regardless of their physical location; conversely, it could lead to some offline users feeling physically isolated and artificially forced into a virtual environment. This is another reason for XR technology to advance into a hybrid system that unites elements of AR, VR, and MR to provide its users with a true feeling of presence regardless of their locations and preferred interaction devices. In this context, we are referring to the hybrid platform capabilities that will enable real-life interactions with virtual objects and elements as well as other users without having to submerge into a completely virtual environment.

With tech giants’ active investment in creating their versions of XR hybrid platforms, we already have some examples of how these platforms will take shape. Starting from Horizon, a social VR platform that enables users to explore, interact, and collaborate in virtual worlds by Meta, to the much anticipated Windows-powered Microsoft hybrid work that is expected to preview on April 5th, 2022. As we are witnessing more immersive collaboration platforms appearing, industries will start adapting them to their needs. At the same time, individual users will gradually begin seeking spaces that can provide them with more specific features and tools for interaction.

As with technological advancements, some industries are more ready than others to start the adaptations. With the concept of hybrid XR platforms now being more or less clear, we decided to also look at five directions where they have great potential to emerge and expedite their adaptation shortly.

Hybrid Platforms in Healthcare and Medtech

We have already seen the healthcare industry exploring opportunities that immersive technology can bring into this domain, integrating XR into various directions, from anesthesiology and surgery to intervention and disease awareness. The foreseeable future, without doubt, will have more XR-enhanced cases surging. Going forward, using XR based hybrid platforms in healthcare and MedTech could accelerate the industry’s development and help solve critical issues like medical error prevention, high cost of care, shortage of specialists on location, and patient accessibility. Additionally, there is excellent potential in adapting hybrid XR platforms for medical specialist collaborations, including training, reskilling, and upskilling.

In the future, hybrid XR platforms can reshape the healthcare industry as a whole, uniting diagnostic, treatment, intervention, and post-care into a unified hybrid ecosystem accessible for specialists and patients around the globe, regardless of their physical locations. Such advancement, in the long run, can help improve accessibility and better patient outcomes for millions worldwide.

Hybrid Platforms in Remote Work and Collaboration

We continue to move towards remote work and collaboration, with both Gartner and Deloitte predicting a more significant fraction of workers becoming remote in the upcoming years, with offices becoming more of a concept than a physical location. As exciting as this may sound, let’s not forget about the potential concerns with remote work, from employees struggling with unplugging after-work loneliness to collaboration challenges and isolation. The good news is that XR has the potential to solve these issues, helping dissolve the boundaries of the sense of presence.

As the technology behind hybrid platforms advances, we can step closer to tools that allow for equal presence, be it physical or remote. Thus, more companies could allow their employees to select whether they wish to work on location or from home offices without having to undergo several disadvantages of working remotely or feeling physiologically limited. This could have a positive impact on the distributed workforce as XR will continue enhancing and making remote work more effective, economically reasonable, comfortable, and safe for both the employer and the employee.

Hybrid Platforms in Pharma

Pharma is one of the directions where hybrid platforms and XR implementation could be incredibly beneficial, especially in educating specialists and patients. In Pharma, like no other industry, the process of guidance plays a critical role, and mistakes can have quite severe consequences. As many activities continue to be remote, not being able to communicate face-to-face can have a significant toll on businesses, specialists, and patients. In this highly regulated field, hybrid XR platforms can connect users with the help of XR technology, providing specialists and patients with new opportunities for immersive communication, education, and guided assistance.

Hybrid XR platforms can assist in many cases where guided and applicable to all ages; instructions are a must. Utilizing XR can assist users with mastering the use of pharmaceutical products, helping avoid mistakes, and teaching the process to be simple and reliable. In the future, there is a high potential in further expanding the use of hybrid platforms and XR for collaborations in more complex pharma areas, allowing not only connect businesses and their consumers when it comes to remote education or understanding of products to ensure safety but also also also in contribution to new product development, supply chain, and distribution enhancement.

Hybrid Platforms in Education

Like never before, today, we are in great need of flexibility. It is essential in education and knowledge acquisition, with our reality being far from ideal for many who need or wish to pursue any level of education. The whole composition of study institutions has been reshaped by the ongoing pandemic, forcing millions to adapt and find new ways for individuals and institutions to continue the education process. Considering that hybrid XR platforms for education will be required to be interactive, scalable, and customizable for any institution. Users will need to have an opportunity to continue the learning process in an intuitive and easily accessible manner, switching between various devices, be it a VR, AR, or MR headset, PC, mobile phone, or tablet.

As such platforms will require accessibility for users of different age groups and technological literacy, they should be built based on three core principles – seamless and immersive user experience, data security and privacy, final product quality, and attention to detail. The hybrid XR platform should allow participants to engage in a unified space where professors or teachers can present, demonstrate interactive materials and objects, and interact with the audience as if all participants are physically present in one location. XR-enhanced hybrid platforms will gradually become an excellent analog to traditional education methods as they will be able to erase the boundaries for all involved users, helping them come together without the need to relocate physically.

Hybrid Platforms in Enterprise

When it comes to innovation, large-scale companies have a significant advantage due to their maturity and difference in investment opportunities. On the other hand, bureaucracy can be a game-stopper for many rapidly developing technology implementations. To move hand in hand with the global developments and opportunities arising from hybrid XR platforms, enterprise-level businesses ought to take a step back and look at technological advancement from the infrastructure integration perspective. The XR component of hybrid platforms can reshape the speed and quality of communication decision-making, optimize operational costs, and enable a sense of physical presence for numerous remote employees.

Creating hybrid platforms that engage users on enterprise scales ought to account for user technological literacy and the solution’s scalability. In this context, hybrid XR platforms can be excellent tools to work across various devices, from XR headsets to mobile and desktop browsers, allowing for much-needed flexibility.

ALEX DZYUBA, LUCID REALITY LABS CEO

“We are just one step away from hybrid XR platforms becoming a part of our everyday lives. Even though their expectations are quite high, we are already at the stage of technological development, when they can become a part of our present rather than just a vague foreseeable future”.

In Conclusion

The coming of hybrid platforms is bound to reshape how we work, interact, collaborate, and go about our everyday lives. By allowing technology to erase the boundaries of physical presence, we can rediscover and grasp the much-needed sense of presence, helping once more connect people regardless of their geographical location.

Discover how XR can help advance your company’s technological profile in our portfolio or by contacting us.

FAQ

But how exactly can XR be put to best use?

Depending on the organizations or institutions that need XR experience, it can enchase training, collaboration, interaction, learning, communication, and other activities through immersive interaction that can be accessed without being physically present. XR can also be a tool to help reduce costs, optimize learning and training time, connect physical and digital presence, and evaluate, track, and monitor the success of in-XR-performed activities.

How are learner activities in XR fostering critical STEM skills, including inquiry, empathy, collaboration, and communication?

XR allows users to submerge into any created scenario, where they can practice and hone skills, including inquiry, empathy, collaboration, and communication in a controlled and safe environment. XR helps foster skills in a fully controlled environment, with different difficulty levels and opportunities to face challenging situations as if in a real-life setting. The possibility to replay or retract the taken steps or made mistakes allows users to observe their performance firsthand and receive necessary feedback to improve the learning process results.

How can learning and performance be accurately assessed in XR environments?

Like with any assessment system, it is necessary to set particular KPIs to assess the performance in the XR environment accurately. The significant advantage of XR is the possibility to track additional metrics, like eye-tracking, which allows following the person’s gaze and presence, as well as head-, hand-, facial- and body-tracking, which gives comprehensive information helpful to assess the emotional and physical responses.

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