Spurred by the pandemic, immersive tech—augmented reality and virtual reality—transformed how we learn, work and live.
Its real transformational potential is in the emerging markets. Barriers to employment and education lowered by the internet can be altogether eliminated by immersive technologies.
Although rooted in video games, this tech has been forecast to change the world for several years. That promise seemed distant: Google Glasses were unnecessary and FarmVille came and went in a flash.
As the pandemic forced us to live more of our lives online, it has also posed the question of how we can make those online lives as realistic, productive and engaging—in other words, as immersive—as their offline equivalents.
Immersive technology extends and enriches the user's current experience of reality. It provides suspension of disbelief through creative and technical production values found in video games like Fortnite or TV shows like Black Mirror or The Mandalorian.
Some technologies, like augmented reality, overlay a field of digital data on top of the user's field of vision. Virtual reality goes a step further, surrounding the individual with a 360-degree digital environment that they can move through and interact with.
This immersive tech is sorely needed. The world of work has shifted almost completely online, and yet the tools we have available underperform. Zoom is fine as a short-term stopgap, but it doesn't promote the true collaboration, teamwork, or socializing provided with a physical office.
Problems with "Zoom fatigue," and lack of social perceptivity and joint attention (the feeling of being in a shared state of flow with others) can only be solved by creating joint, virtual worlds. Worlds with real collaboration, feedback and reinforcement—just like in a shared physical office space.