HoloLens Manchester

by Mark Bridgeman, Group C.O.O and UK Managing Director, EON Reality

Manchester is a world-leading city for immersive technology: both the use of it, the vision for it, the research of it and the creation of it.

But by several accounts, you would likely believe that AR and VR are having a crisis moment. So, why are we experiencing the gap of disappointment? CCS released a report about low user figures for smartphone-based VR, and lower than projected unit sales of AR smart glasses by the heavy industry sectors, as well as household VR names like PSVR and Oculus Rift.

Magic Leap – AR devices that are like gold dust in the UK, caused controversy upon the hype of release for its first headset. However, they are the closest device we have as a popular AR wearable that people have heard of and wish that they owned. Meanwhile, the HoloLens retains its place as a leading industrial AR wearable.

The classic issue right now, is that apparently no-one wants to keep a Head Mounted Display (HMD) on their face. We’re still glued to our smartphones, and a smart device to replace it hasn’t quite hit the market – yet.

Yet in the same breath, British Cycling announced their eSport racing championships offering for 2019 – bringing thousands of cyclists together in virtual reality, using a popular smartphone fitness app called Zwift.

Virtual Reality in particular, is still being seen as the nice to have; confined by needing to be wired up for a premium experience. However, true tetherless VR already exists. In Manchester alone, immersive VR entertainment centres are already the norm – such as the IMAX’s first European VR Centre at the Trafford Centre, Virtual Hideout, and ImmotionVR.

Manchester – driving immersive technology forward

In Manchester and in parallel within some of the world’s biggest companies, this apprehension is a totally outdated way of thinking. Instead, the kinds of technology that Manchester is producing, is being adopted en masse for scenario training, for impactful learning and marketing experiences, and for in-person communication that defies any distance and time differences.

Of course, EON Reality chose Manchester as its European Headquarters, going against the grain where a few different cities had been recommended, and the company are proud to have the support of Manchester City Council.

Our office recently celebrated enterprise technology success through a collaboration with Shell. We were chosen as a market-leader in the provision of an immersive technology platform for Virtual Trainer – our VR and data-based software service, designed specifically for training, learning and development. Virtual Trainer is also an example of technology that was invented, researched and built in Manchester. Virtual Trainer also won an award at London Tech Week this year – something many of our team are naturally proud of as Northeners, but more pertinently, it served as a reminder that Manchester is the ideal city for research and development which contributes massively to international businesses. For 2019, we’re partnering with a number of colleges and universities to drive VR and AR in education, too.

Manchester also boasts some of the most exciting VR, AR and MR start-ups and agencies who are accelerating the boundaries of creativity and utility in digital realities, as well as the companies that support them like Microsoft.

This year, MediaCityUK launched their immersive technology conference, Meta Lab, attracting guests, investors as well as the cream of UK talent – adding to the region’s offering following Manchester Metropolitan University’s renowned and successful annual International AR and VR Conference.

Industry 4.0 and Augmented Reality

The market is expected to swell in Augmented and Virtual Reality. Specifically, AR is becoming the defining interface for businesses immersed in the transformation as the fourth industrial age matures. EON Reality is primed for more research and development in its own industrial AR Assist products; the region’s creative and digital agencies like Holdens and Magnetic North, are busy creating some of the most exciting immersive mobile applications.

Evidently, Manchester is built to invent, discover and deliver.

Just as well that this city enjoys its heritage for industrial revolution – it’s business as usual for those of us in the region, tasked with creating the next.

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