William D. Confalonieri, Chief Digital Officer, CIO & VP, Deakin University
Referring to augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), what is the current scenario of this industry and what is happening in this industry right now?
I believe that we are in a very special point of time—a point in time where technology from a platform of record grows into a platform of engagement. With the use of technology now, we can win minds and hearts through beautiful experiences, creating significant competitive advantages. We are living in an age where the new generation of customers are expecting a premium, beautiful, and an inspiring experience. Moreover, we live in an age where we want to receive extreme personalization. We want things delivered adapting to our circumstances, our preference, location, and culture. That has been the shift in the domain, and we need to use all the machine technology available and try to deliver on that expectation. Now going to the specific technologies, I believe that we will see three merging to deliver the next generation of services—AR/VR, artificial intelligence (AI), and personal predictive analytics.
Can you tell us how is your organization looking forward to adapt AR/VR technology?
Here at the university, we work hard to deliver better learning experiences to our students. We are using AR particularly to improve the experiences of the students inside and outside the classroom. We use it to improve our campus services and to rollout digital layers of information on top of physical facilities. Inside the classroom, as an example, all the students of medicine have access to AR applications to study the heart.
Therefore, they have a floating, pumping heart in front of them where they can experiment, use and see all the multiple functions of the heart to understand the concepts the teacher wants to deliver.
Today, AR and VR are two separate disciplines. However, those two things are a part of a continuum that goes from the real reality to the VR
The students have said that after using AR instead of books, their confidence in the knowledge they have received has increased by 70 percent. It is a massive improvement in the transmission of knowledge, especially in the field of medicine. It has been really important because it is showing us how these technologies are going to change the delivery of services. I also believe these technologies are in a very early stage. We just see the beginning of what is possible.
What are the challenges faced in the implementation of AR/VR technologies?
One of the most important challenges while implementing AR is the lack of maturity in the market in terms of frameworks or standards. We need to understand that when we make an investment in these technologies, we might need to readapt our products from scratch should a consolidation of standards occur in the future. With that restriction, we cannot invest in massive scale deployments.
Regarding the future, I think we will see an evolution in the next few years. Today, AR and VR are two separate disciplines. However, those two things are a part of a continuum that goes from the real reality to the VR. We are going to see the devices that we use to access this information get simplified. We will also see this type of technology integrated with artificial intelligence and IoT.
Since you were talking about integration of IoT, can you tell us how difficult is it to merge real and virtual world?
Having a blended experience is possible. But the complexity resides in the fact that there are no road maps that one can follow. When you're working in such a domain, you are one among the pioneers taking risks and making decisions that perhaps no one has made before, because it is perfectly possible, but it is so new that you don't know how things are going to evolve.
Can you shed some light on to the AR/VR integrated business and its future? Which are the industries that are going to be benefited by this technology?
The service industries, particularly the ones providing personal services are the ones that are going to be affected the most.
Since you were in this field for quite some time, can you tell us what kind of evolution have you noticed and how rapidly is the market growing?
The movement is important, and this technologies will move massive investment, but still, maturity is not there, so we need to wait and see how things evolve.