Extended Reality: how can you use it in your business?

Published on 31/01/2024 in Inspire

We got acquainted with Virtual Reality through the entertainment industry. But what exactly is VR? What are the other forms such as Assisted, Augmented, and Mixed Reality? And how can you use these forms of Extended Reality (XR) in your company?

Extended Reality: how can you use it in your business?

First step: Assisted Reality

“In the simplest form of XR you work in the physical world, but you see extra information about the surroundings on a display in smart glasses, for example,” says Joke Tisaun, Business Innovation & Development Manager Healthcare at Proximus NXT.

“Assisted Reality glasses usually have a built-in camera too, so that someone else can watch remotely.”

That makes remote maintenance possible, among other things, so that for example an expert at a distance follows and supports the technician on site during the procedure. Another example is the high-tech ambulance, on which UZ Brussels has collaborated with Proximus NXTOpens a new window . “Thanks to Assisted Reality glasses, caregivers outside the ambulance are fully aware of the situation inside.”

Next step: Augmented Reality

“When you use Augmented Reality glasses, you see additional information, like a layer over the surrounding physical reality. For example, the technician sees instructions for a machine through his AR glasses. Order pickers in a warehouse use AR glasses that guide them efficiently to the right products. A surgeon can view the patient on the operating table and consult the medical imaging at a glance with AR glasses.”

One step further: Mixed Reality

“With Mixed Reality you not only see virtual objects in the physical world, you also interact with them. For example, you can first build and optimize new products virtually. A new car, for instance, which you can enter to check whether everything inside is also put together well and logically. Only then do you build the new model in practice.”

We are evolving more and more toward such Mixed Reality glasses, with which you can combine all the forms of XR. For example, Dr. Tollens, head of surgery at the Imelda Hospital in Bonheiden, carried out a complex incisional hernia operation wearing Mixed Reality glasses. While he operated, doctors around the world followed him live. He could consult the patient’s medical record and have medical images projected on the person in a virtual space.

The XR story is never complete without also looking at the cloud and connectivity.

Joke Tisaun, Business Innovation & Development Manager Healthcare at Proximus NXT

Last step: Virtual Reality

The best-known form of XR is also the most far-reaching. Joke: “In Virtual Reality you no longer have any touchpoint with the real world. You are completely immersed in a virtual world. VR is very handy for training employees in a safe virtual environment, for example.” Thus, the paramedical intervention team of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Hospital in Aalst, Asse and Ninove trains in Virtual Reality, in a training environment that Proximus NXT developed together with the hospital. “In VR the participants experience an emergency situation, for example an accident, in lifelike 3D.”

In Virtual Reality there is no longer any touchpoint with the real world. VR is therefore very handy for training employees in a safe virtual environment.

Joke Tisaun, Business Innovation & Development Manager Healthcare at Proximus NXT

“Some people hesitate a bit when they have to put on VR glasses,” says Joke. “But once they have overcome that barrier, they see the advantages of VR. Companies with whom we have established a proof of concept with VR are extending our collaboration and asking for additional applications.”

Choose the right technology carefully

XR offers many possibilities, but the glasses and technology are still not very standardized. In other words, if you use one form of XR today, you cannot simply switch to another form of XR with the same hardware.

So, it comes down to starting from a well-chosen use case, and seeing which technology makes a solution possible. “You do that by examining the applications that already exist, including those outside the sector in which your company is active. Then you must focus on the points for improvement of the organization: the specific issue you want to solve.”

Only then comes the question which XR technology may offer an answer to this. Once that choice is made, XR – just like any other technology – needs a solid basis. “The processing power of the glasses themselves is more and more a bottleneck.

That is why calculations increasingly no longer take place in the glasses, but in the cloud. That should – and can – now occur in real time. That’s why the XR story is never complete without also looking at the cloud and connectivity. Today, thanks to 5G, it’s possible to work in XR at full speed in real time with high processing power requirements.”

Joke Tisaun is Business Innovation & Development Manager Healthcare at Proximus NXT

A 5G Private Network is a closed network built specifically to meet the needs of a particular organization. It offers higher bandwidth, lower latency, and more security than public networks, resulting in better performance, reliability, and efficiency. This makes it ideal for companies wanting to implement advanced applications such as augmented reality, industrial automation, and autonomous vehicles.

Read more about 5G Private Networks Opens a new window

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