BrainXchange held their annual EWTS, which came to you this year from “everywhere.” Like so many conferences and summits in the last few months, the event for enterprise XR and wearables went entirely digital – this one with its own custom-built platform to promote the professional networking that the summit is known for.
As with any ARPost event coverage, this article will present some highlights but will fail to capture everything that took place.
An Overview of This Year’s Speakers
This year’s EWTS took place from October 20 through October 23. The ambitious conference featured over 100 speakers. Many of the speakers came from familiar companies within the space, including Deutsche Telekom, Google, Lenovo, PTC, PwC, and Qualcomm.
Unlike other XR conferences, EWTS also included speakers from the industries employing enterprise XR solutions, including:
- Duke Energy;
- John Deere;
- Lockheed Martin;
- Thermo Fisher Scientific;
In addition to speakers, attendees could exchange information, chat and video call one another, and visit exhibitor booths. Event organizers even “gamified” the event by associating token values with activities like making connections and visiting booths. There were then prizes for the attendees that had accumulated the most tokens.
Talks and subsequent Q&A sessions initially took place live, but recordings are also available to attendees. The platform will remain up to foster connection in the months following the event.
Why Enterprise XR and Wearables?
EWTS is also special in that it prioritizes wearables. This is the flashiest technology out there, but for enterprise XR applications it’s also important for users to have their hands free of controllers and their persons untethered from computers.
“We’re going to need to find a way to prioritize bringing this digital superpower to those frontline workers that aren’t seeing a lot of the benefits right now,” PTC President and CEO, Jim Heppelmann, said in his talk “Bringing Digital to the Frontline. “We’re going to have to find a way to let the real world be the canvas of information rather than a computer screen.”
Announcements and New Research
No summit would be complete without a few announcements and launches, and EWTS had its fair share. While some of the better-known platforms that are more active in entertainment tend to save announcements for other trade shows, this was the opportunity for enterprise XR solution providers to shine.
Upcoming Insights From PwC
PwC’s Head of VR/AR Jeremy Dalton contributed a talk titled “VR/AR in Industry Analysis.” Much of the talk involved recent research into XR in business and the economy, including highlights from their recent paper “Seeing is Believing.”
The talk also included early notes from an upcoming report that were first shared at EWTS. The upcoming report includes information harvested from social media accounts related to companies using enterprise XR solutions in the United States and the United Kingdom including isolating over 3,500 separate applications.
“What you’ve seen is just a snapshot in time of what we’ve seen in the analysis so far,” said Dalton.
Some of the information including an interactive map of enterprise XR use cases in the UK can be accessed now. From the same link, users can also input their own information for potential inclusion in the final report.
Increased Support for Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2
The second generation of Google’s Glass Enterprise Edition launched last year but at this year’s EWTS, Product Manager Cecilia Abadie announced increased support for the hands-free Enterprise XR wearable.
Betas are now available for Google Meet and Cisco Webex. Both of these are remote meeting platforms contributing to one of enterprise XR’s most in-demand tasks – remote assistance.
RealWear Partnership With Zoom
In a similar announcement, RealWear co-founder and President Sanjay Jhawar’s talk “A New Culture of Frontline Work” announced a partnership between RealWear and none other than that poster child of the COVID-era: Zoom.
Takeaway Trends and Discussions
In addition to announcements and releases, EWTS included general discussion from enterprise XR experts. A few telling trends were discussed across talks at the summit. Some were insights regarding this unique time and others contribute to the writing on the wall predicting the near future of the industry.
Extended Computing and the COVID Pandemic
“I’m not sure that you could declare a ‘winner’ but if you really wanted to declare a winning concept of the COVID-era, it would be digital,” Heppelmann said. The sentiment was a common one throughout the summit. “The digital genie is not going back in the bottle.”
To be fair, the enterprise XR markets were already seeing explosive growth as Lenovo Commercial AR/VR Software Product Manager, Leon Laroue, said in his talk “Future-proofing Your Enterprise AR/VR Deployment with a Platform-based End-to-End Solution.”
“Really, the net result of COVID is an acceleration of trends we’ve been seeing already,” said Laroue.
Other speakers were adamant that the disruption caused by coronavirus can be looked at as an opportunity to change things for the better. This was also a common narrative throughout talks at the VRARA’s Global Summit earlier this month where it was championed by speakers like Amy Peck and Catherine Henry.
“[The pandemic] provides an opportunity to reimagine how we live and how we work,” Accenture Managing Director Daniel Guenther said in a panel discussion “Outmaneuvering Uncertainty with Extended Reality.” “With technology, we can change this story of survival to one of growth. XR has an important role in that story.”
Increased Adoption and the Future of Wearables
“We’re seeing nothing but acceleration, but we’re seeing good support for that,” Duke Energy Senior IT Architect for Cybersecurity, John McGuire, said in the “Technical Considerations: IT & Data Security” panel discussion.
Some of this acceleration is at least partially the result of companies working through complications due to COVID. However, much of the adoption is also the result of emerging technologies like 5G data. Further developments were discussed as further accelerants for the adoption of wearables, particularly in enterprise XR where cables can be a hazard.
“2022, I think will see us cut the cord [to smartphones and computing packs],” Qualcomm Senior Director of Product Management of XR Strategy and Partnerships, Brian Vogelsang, said in his talk “The Path to Enterprise Smartglasses.” “Beyond that, we’ll see the lighter-weight form factors that become all-in-one.”
“If we want to be adopted by enterprise, (…) we have to adopt the security policies of a large enterprise company,” LogistiVIEW CEO and founder Seth Patin said in the panel discussion.
Device and Network Security
Some emerging technologies, like cloud storage, can increase data speeds but also introduce security complications that need to be managed. However, most enterprise settings already have mobile device management policies that can be applied to XR wearables.
“There are ways to get everything done, it’s just a matter of pushing at it,” Principal Engineer of General Dynamics at Electric Boat said in the “Technical Considerations” panel discussion. “The first answer is always, ‘No, it can’t be done.’.”
See You Next Time
While EWTS isn’t for everybody because of its strong focus on enterprise XR, it’s also one of the only places where this important sector of the industry isn’t overshadowed by entertainment and gaming. We look forward to the event next year.