Get ready for XR – news from Augmented World Expo 2018
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The world of augmented reality is preparing for take-off, if the ninth edition of Augmented World Expo (AWE) is anything to go by. AWE is the world’s largest augmented reality, virtual reality and wearable technology expo, taking place in California each May. A European AWE event will also be happening in Munich, Germany on 18-19 October.

With 400 speakers on stage and 6,000 attendees, there was plenty going on at AWE 2018, as people gathered to hear about innovations in industry, entertainment, smart wearables and new augmented, virtual and mixed reality tech products.

A new term: XR or extended reality

The augmented, virtual and mixed reality field has been on the margins for many years, finding traction primarily in the entertainment and gaming market (yes, we still play Pokémon GO). But each year it is slowly growing with a new umbrella term emerging to cover all aspects of digital reality: XR or extended reality.

XR is worth only $18 billion a year at present but this is forecast to grow to $215 billion in three years (source: ABC7 News). Growth of AR, VR, MR and XR is forecast to come from the world of enterprise although the commercial inflection point for everyday use and integration into existing enterprise tech is still three years away (this claim is often repeated at AWE, says AWE co-founder Ori Inbar, but he says the entry of Apple into the market with T288 smartglasses running on a new rOS or ‘reality operating system’ in December 2021 helps firm up the timeline). More in Inbar’s opening keynote:

AWE 2018 highlights

Some key developments at #AWE2018 were in:

  • Aids for the sight/hearing-impaired – such as, haptic or kinesthetic communication which brings sense of touch communication options, and augmented hearing solutions that amplify digital audio and reduce background noise (NuHeara).
  • Collaboration and cloud technologies – an Open AR Cloud initiative was launched with the idea of creating a shared digital layer on top of the physical world. Sign up here.
  • Mobile and marketing – eg, the “first mobile AR marketing platform” delivering 3D creative deployment and analytics (Vyking).
  • Assistance/help – eg, an AR platform that offers both real-time remote assistance and AR smart instructions (ScopeAR).
  • Virtual reality tours – new accessible tool launched (Google)

The full news roundup is listed on the AWE website.

Growth areas and industries for XR

There were plenty of new product launches (wearables, smartglasses, smartphones, headsets) and software development kits at AWE 2018 but there is also a growing need for content and metadata, which is where Firehead recruitment and jobs tends to focus.

The CBI says extended reality is on the threshold of wider adoption and is poised to transform some big industry sectors, including: retail, events, media, marketing, healthcare, construction, automotive, manufacturing, military and space exploration. It’s also being used in training and even in recruitment hiring, using VR puzzle-solving to assess candidate strengths and capabilities.

Content jobs in ‘reality’

More AR applications means more jobs for the suitably skilled – that’s why it’s on our ‘one to watch’ recruitment areas at Firehead. Extended reality content jobs and opportunities are not yet mainstream but digital communicators with suitable metadata and communication skills are likely to be in demand.

To prepare for that XR recruitment tipping point, we would like to connect with anyone working on the content or metadata side of augmented reality. We’d love to talk to you and find out more so please get in touch. We’re also looking for guest interviewees for our behind-the-scenes job series. Here are a couple of previous Q&As in the augmented reality field: