immersive technology refers to new ways of creating, displaying and interacting with applications, content and experiences. Immersive technology has transformed the digital experience by bringing together the virtual with users’ sight, sound, and even touch.
Immersive technologies allow a person to feel part of an artificial, simulated environment – for example, immersive theatre requires the audience to interact with the set, props and actors, while an immersive air control dashboard may allow the operator to see and interact with real-time monitoring data.
Virtual reality (VR) completely replaces a user’s surroundings with a digital environment using a head-mounted display (HMD) with two near-eye displays, one for each eye. VR lends itself to both industrial applications and creative experiences with new modes of storytelling.
Augmented reality (AR) creates an immersive experience for users by blending the real with the virtual. Utilising computer vision and machine learning algorithms the device can understand the ‘real world’ in both a spatial and semantic sense. Digital Catapult has helped cultural institutions reach new audiences with AR and helped retail brands explore new AR-powered solutions to grow, and innovate within, their business.
Haptic Technology is commonly known as ‘3D touch’ or ‘kinaesthetic interaction’. Unlike other immersive technologies it involves tactile feedback including pressure, vibrations, and movements. Haptics are likely to be the one of the main ways we interact with applications and content in future computing paradigms – be it spatial computing or the “metaverse”. In 2020 Digital Catapult mapped the UK haptic ecosystem to uncover some of the future use cases, players and opportunities – you can access the report here.
In summary, recent developments in immersive technologies have created new opportunities for businesses to solve problems, seize new opportunities, and push innovation forward.
Why immersive experiences or solutions?
The continued development of immersive technologies has already had an impact on the economy and in many industries because they offer new and exciting ways of interacting, analysing, and creating. Here are a few examples of why immersive experiences and technologies have been applied to existing cross-industry problems.
From the military, to healthcare and sports, immersive technologies have transformed the way training is designed and delivered. The use of VR and AR has increased the speed and quality of training, and allows a more hands-on training experience which is very valuable and usually difficult to achieve in conventional classroom settings. This includes soft skills as well as technical ones, for example handling difficult situations or managing a team.
Product design and prototyping
Immersive technologies will allow product development teams to quickly and cheaply create virtual prototypes, while creating opportunities for remote collaboration. Leaps in immersive tech will continue to revolutionise product development, removing obstacles such as time, cost, and location.
Digital Catapult supported Gravity Sketch, a collaborative 3D and Virtual Reality design tool, through our Augmentor programme.Allowing teams to communicate ideas in 3D during the design process, speeding up product development, Gravity Sketch has secured £4.15 funding from VC firms and is now working with the likes of Nissan and Ford.