Be innovative and prepare for what will become “reality” in the coming years
The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation had the honor of hosting Amy Peck, the Founder and CEO of EndeavorVR, as the closing keynote speaker for their 2021 GEOINT Community Forum, The Geospatial Metaverse – Infrastructure, Tradecraft, and Applications, last week.
She opened her discussion with a question: “What exactly is the AR Cloud and why should you care?” Peck explained that augmented reality (AR) is intended to enhance life by serving as a duplicate, or “digital twin,” of the world around us. Though augmented reality and mixed reality (MR) is currently a smaller market compared to that of virtual reality (VR), Peck anticipates a tremendous shift in focus to AR and MR once headsets become more wearable, affordable, and commonplace.
She noted that an expansion of interest in all types of extended reality (XR) products is rooted in the global transition to remote workforce environments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic but also underscored that she expects consumer AR to remain a driving force of enterprise AR growth. “Consumers are the workforce, and the workforce are consumers,” said Peck.
Right now, the consumer is limited to mobile AR. Peck described mobile AR interior design applications and Try On/Magic Mirror as valuable examples that also widely understate the capabilities AR can have in the hands of the consumer. “There’s so much more. This is truly the next computing platform, and everything that we do on our mobile devices [is something] we will eventually be doing with these wearables,” she said.
Peck also highlighted the current utility of AR in marketing, autonomous vehicles, robotics, product information, and E-sports gaming. “It’s essentially anchoring all these digital experiences to a place… but also allowing us to interact with one another in a global multiplayer mode,” Peck added. “At any given time within the next 4-5 years, there might be 10,000 to 100,000 invisible digital experiences… we will have a system to be able to decide what we see when, and where, and in what context. We’re going to really merge… and [all versions of reality are] going to blend together.”
AR can also be leveraged in industrial assessment (e.g., HVAC, maintenance, weight-bearing wall identification) and remote technical assistance (e.g., finding solutions to malfunctioning equipment) in ways that save significant money and time.
Peck mentioned that AR can be paired with other technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to create an efficacy loop that allows the technology to improve itself.
Peck further emphasized that research and development, medicine, and military can also benefit from the integration of augmented reality. Training a fleet, simulating a high-risk surgery, or preparing employees to work as a part of a pharmaceutical manufacturing line that is still under construction can save things beyond money and time: it can prevent the loss of human life.
Peck then shifted her attention to working with data from the inside out. “Data now is really a two-way street,” Peck held. “We are collecting an entirely new and different level of data from within these headsets… how are we merging the digital and physical worlds? On the flip side, we can bring data into these 3D environments and be able to manipulate them and work with them in this organic – and even physical – way.”
After concluding her vibrant discussion on use cases of AR, Peck reminded the audience that while those applications are already operational in one form or another, she believes the spotlight should have a much broader diameter – one that goes beyond use cases.
“There’s a much bigger strategy that we should all consider when we’re thinking about this technology, and really, all technology as a whole,” Peck urged. “There is a tsunami of emerging technology coming, and it’s all moving forward and progressing at a tremendous pace… we need to start to harness it now, today, before we do actually lose control of it.”
She contined: “Imagine what you want your products and services to be. What do you want your business to look like? What do you want your personal life to look like?”
“What do we want the world to look like?”
“In order for us to really be effective, we need to think about… convergence… Each of these technologies is simply an ingredient in a larger recipe, but we need to define what that recipe is,” she continued.
Human-Centric Identity is what Peck sees as the most critical component of navigating the digital world. “It’s how we are able to start to manage our own data, how we move in and out of digital realms… I envision our avatar as being our digital asset in the digital realm. We can actually build that interface to control our own data to give permissions and potentially even monetize it,” Peck said. “We need to be cross-functional.”
In response to a variety of audience member questions, Peck identified her intentions to bridge the digital divide while also putting forth a set of standards to protect users, data, and information as it develops. “We’re building the bridge under our feet as we’re crossing the canal… it’s critical we look at the standards around not just the AR cloud, but also Blockchain and AI in particular.”
She encouraged viewers to be innovative, accented the delicate balance between local and global thinking, and underscored the importance of being prepared for what will become “reality” in the coming years.
She ended with a quote by Alan Kay: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
USGIF thanks Amy Peck for her passion, enthusiasm, and inspiring thought leadership in both this dimension and beyond.