Blog post by Kari Peltola: Finland is riding on the next wave of XR technologies

The new generation of immersive X-reality devices has solved old generations’ problems with sufficient processing power and a resolution to sustain pleasurable experiences. We are stepping into the age where old conceptions of what computers are and how we interact with them are going to change fundamentally as XR experiences can now be easily purchased with today’s developed digital distribution channels.

X-reality (XR) acts as an umbrella term for the entity that consists of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented reality (AR) and Mixed reality (MR). VR means that the user is being transferred into a digital, computer constructed world, usually with the help of head-mounted display (HMD) such as Oculus Rift. Moreover, AR as well as MR means that the digital world is brought to the real world with the user’s own device such as smartphone or HMD.

Although the world of digital solutions is rapidly developing, the XR consumer market is still at its infancy. As of today, only a couple of million VR HMDs have been sold. Moreover, the AR/MR-glasses are currently mostly used by a small number of companies which explains their fairly low market prevalence. In the short term, mobile phone based AR might radically alter the market dynamics because of Apple’s and Google’s mobile AR platform reach of over 300 million devices.  

A whole new world of possibilities

XR technologies enable unprecedented things and allow us to reach places we couldn’t even dream of visiting.

For example, analysts predict that live streaming of 360° VR content from concerts and sports events will become a major part of the digital future. VR gaming is already making its way to the mainstream market with offering unparalleled immersion. In addition to that, the healthcare industry is using XR technologies for training – just a little while ago the Helsinki University Hospital in Finland conducted the world’s first neurosurgical live streaming using Nokia OZO camera system.

XR technologies are horizontal – they will affect many of the things we deal with in our daily lives. So to say, who wouldn’t want to check their hotel room or a potential apartment beforehand or enjoy being digitally transferred into a sunny and calming beach environment while lying in a hospital bed. The possibilities are endless and this is just the beginning.

“That is when miracles start to happen”

As most of the XR applications are made using the Unity game engine, our strong gaming ecosystem has become a huge strength for us – game creation,in itself, doesn’t differ too much from creating VR and AR experiences. On top of that, our strong mobile phone ecosystem is continually creating a lot of valuable know-how in e.g. optics and sound, which can directly boost the development of this new technology area. Further, Finland has an active startup scene, which promotes the development and enables new entrepreneurs to get their hands on these technologies. That is when miracles start to happen.

Compared to its peers, the Finnish XR ecosystem is faring well. We have great technology, a lot of enthusiastic people driving forward and an expanding base of startups and other companies exploiting the possibilities of these technologies. We are well-positioned for the next wave of countries.

We can expect twofold effects from the XR technologies. For example, our strong machine manufacturers can create competitive advantage by exploiting XR technologies in sales, R&D and maintenance operations. On top of that, our XR technology producers can create products and services that are also competitive in the international market. This also makes Finnish XR products interesting for international investors – some of the technology companies have already set up their Nordic VR startups accelerators in Helsinki.

Companies in various industries

The next step of the XR technology is that we are probably going to see a flood of interesting AR applications because of Apple’s ARKit. In addition to that there is a chance that VR technology is going to have a profound impact on the travel industry, as people start to use it to choose their destinations and hotels and later even to travel virtually around the world.

About the author

Kari Peltola is the chairman at Virtual Reality Finland ry and CEO and Co-founder at Leonidas. Virtual Reality Finland ry supports and advances the development and diffusion of virtual and augmented reality technology in Finland. Kari’s mission is to help people have memorable and meaningful experiences so that they can live a great life.

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