INSIGHTS / EXTENDED REALITY

”The reason why big companies m u s t make XR projects now, is that we are at the brink of an internet revolution”

SIMON LAJBOSCHITZ
On what the not-so-distant future, in which VR and AR will increasingly become an integrated part of our daily lives, will be like
January 17, 2022

With a background in philosophy and business, Lajboschitz tried VR for the first time at a US museum 7 years ago. 

— I just got super excited with the possibilities that this technology presented — to be able to ”transport” people to other inaccessible places. 

He and his colleague Peter Fisher quickly founded Copenhagen-based Khora, which published Denmark’s first VR game in 2015 and opened the world’s first VR arcade in February 2016. Since then, the company’s created +300 XR projects, ranging from healthcare application and commercial application to art and marketing, and is now a leading Scandinavian Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality production studio.

We hear a lot about VR, XR, and AR right now. Can you share a brief overview of how you experience the industry in 2022? 

— Yes, XR has been through a lot of hype over the last 6 years. Hype is great to generate excitement, but often follows a negative assessment, when hyped expectations are not met. Over the years we are definitely seeing a maturity in the industry. The hardware side and the software tools have developed a lot and also the users and clients are more familiar with the technology. 6 years ago nobody knew what Virtual Reality was, Lajboschitz explains. He continues:

— We’re currently seeing a new hype cycle around the XR Metaverse initiated by 3 main events: The NTF and blockchain hype, Facebook’s name change to Meta, and Corona adding a focus on digital collaboration tools. What we’ve learned over the years, in order to become successful and profitable over the ups and downs of the industry, is the importance of using the technology to solve a tangible problem and collaborate with industry experts to verify and design the solutions.

Why is it a good idea to implement these technologies in daily operations during 2022?

— Companies and institutions should see VR and AR as a new medium and the spacial and immersive power of this new medium allows companies to solve problems better and more efficiently. This could be to transport people into the body of a patient with a certain disorder to gain insight into how it is to live with this disease or to transport people to outer space to see the planet from a holistic point of view to change their opinion on climate change action. But the reason why especially big companies m u s t make XR projects now, is that we are at the brink of an internet revolution, and in 5-10 years the way we interact with the internet will be dramatically different. If companies do not start doing small or medium projects now, they might not be able to follow with competitors when these changes start happening, says Lajboschitz. 

Simon Lajboschitz

Can you tell us more about any of your most innovative projects and what made them so special?

— We collaborated with the Capital Region Mental Health Department on The Challenge Project to develop a software that helps patients suffering from schizophrenia combat their malevolent voices. The Challenge software allows patients to create an audial and visual representation of their malevolent voices, enabling them to confront their hallucinations in a virtual space. With this novel approach to treating a mental health disorder, we expect patients to be able to develop new skills and strategies to cope with and combat their auditory hallucinations to make a genuine and positive difference in their lives. The Challenge Project showcases how VR technology can help advance and expand the tools and methods for medical treatment at our current disposal and may even improve the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of the current treatment of auditory hallucinations. 

— In another project with major Danish energy company Ørsted, we created the Virtual Space Safari, a 360 VR video that launches the viewer on an epic virtual space-odyssey to experience The Overview Effect — the awe-inspiring sensation felt by astronauts as they gaze down on our wondrous planet from the vastness of outer space. The project was created to generate attentiveness to climate issues by instilling in the viewer a greater sense of responsibility, care, and concern for planet earth. The project won two Danish Design Awards in 2020 and was nominated at the VR Awards 2020.

How would you depict the Virtual and Augmented Futures?

— We have by now become fully accustomed to living in a world mediated by screens. From TVs to laptops to the newest smartphones, our daily lives are already shaped by myriad technologies that make it possible for us to exist in multiple spaces at once, to be both online and offline at the same time. These technologies have, in many ways, become an extension of ourselves. For most people, being without their smartphone for one day is a debilitating experience that shows just how much our lives already unfold on digital platforms. While these technological developments are now a routine feature of the way we live, the thought of having the entire internet in the palm of a hand will have seemed unimaginable to most people only 20 years ago. Today, we should begin to prepare for a future full of technological possibilities that may seem inconceivable to us in the present, Lajboschitz tells. He continues: 

— In the future, we will no longer use screens to access the internet. The ”flat internet” of the present will be replaced by the ”spatial internet” of the future. This spatial internet will come to play a crucial part of our every day; the technological development will enable us to do things we never thought we would be capable of, to complete tasks that were formerly reserved for experts, and bring us even closer to friends, family, and co-workers half the world away. 

— Soon, rather than carry around smartphones or tablets, we will be wearing AR glasses that project digital images onto the physical world, merging digital composites with our physical reality. We will all have a personal AI that assists us in navigating the world, helps us figure out what we want and where to find it, and will be able to do quick scans of everything from food to facial expressions to keeping us constantly updated on our health. In the future, there will be no need to call an emergency mechanic if your car breaks down on your way to work. Your AR glasses will simply project small holograms onto the engine to show you exactly how to fix it. The Zoom-videocalls we have all become so closely acquainted with in the current pandemic will move out of the confines of the screen, as our VR headsets allow us to enter a shared digital space that works just as if we were together under the same roof. 

— In this sense, VR and AR technology will not only expand our opportunities and capabilities and give anyone the ability to apply the knowledge of the entire internet to solve complex tasks, but it will also change the way we interact with each other as the digital increasingly merges with the physical world we often think of as the ”real reality”. In the future, the digital sphere will become an even bigger part of that reality; what occurs in digital spaces will feel just as real as what we experience in the physical world, and what we say and do to each other in the virtual world will feel just as good or bad as it does when we are physically present. When it comes to our company, we are building the core components of this future in which VR and AR will play a fundamental role. By introducing people and businesses to the extraordinary world of XR, applying VR and AR technology to solve difficult tasks, and utilizing the benefits and potentials of VR and AR in the present, we are working to make the transition to the spatial internet as smooth as possible and to make VR and AR technology accessible, manageable, and beneficial, in the present as well as in the future.

How?

— While we are already applying VR and AR technology to tackle various challenges facing us in the present, much of our work looks toward the mentioned not-so-distant future in which VR and AR will increasingly become an integrated part of our daily lives. We are constantly imagining and anticipating how VR and AR will change the way we live in the future, the way we relate to one another and to the world around us, and how the massive developments in the digital sphere will even expand our notion of reality, Lajboschitz concludes.

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