The technological extension of our senses

Seven years ago, in a small room at the Los Angeles Convention Center, some Crytek engineers demonstrated the world of “Robinson: The Journey” in a prototype Oculus Rift virtual reality glasses. Technology has allowed us to immerse ourselves in a world of dinosaurs so realistic that when I look up a mountain I almost lose my balance from my seat.

Production Director David Bowman told me at the time that he predicted the expansion of virtual reality within four years. The prediction does not seem unrealistic; Virtual reality was exploding in the video game industry and technology was getting better. A year later, Niantic’s augmented reality game Pokémon Go is going wild. It seems that everything was ready for these technologies, virtual reality and augmented reality, to reach mass consumption.

But that is not what happened. The impact of what we now call extended reality (XR) has not been as wide and transversal as had been expected in the past decade. At the same time, this was not the case. And there are many companies that are betting that it will be different now.

This prompted Vodafone to focus on extended reality at the fourth edition of the Vodafone Business Conference, in which Global Media Group (owner of Dinheiro Vivo) is participating. The conference was held in Porto and featured presentations by Jeremy Dalton, director of metaverse technologies at PwC UK, Alex Roll, founder of virtual reality studio CATS Les PEAS, and Elsa Justino and Ricardo Amaral, from Centro Hospitalar de Trás-os- Montes and Alto Doro.

What justifies the renewed interest after years of progress and setbacks? Context. There are several factors in confluence that create a situation more favorable for the predictions of David Bowman, who is no longer at Crytek, to come true,

Figures from the consulting firm IDC suggest just that. Sales of XR devices surged in 2021, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. The launch of 5G now allows devices to be lighter and more mobile, and the technology has improved so much that it can be used for several hours without disturbing those early years.

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