Insights EDU

COVID-19: XR Opportunities During Crisis

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24 Apr 2020 | 5 min read

Please note: These Insights articles are being regularly updated.

The following is an extract from our COVID-19 XR Support Guide. Over the last two months, we have spoken extensively to industry to identify and overcome the new challenges in light of COVID-19. This article is intended to highlight the opportunities for XR to present solutions to modern problems.

The full report is available below, entirely for free.

Free download: COVID-19 XR Support Guide

The complete Academy COVID-19 resource built under the guidance of the Academy Steering Board. Complete with financial support, hygiene guidance, and all our top tips for navigating this difficult period. 

COVID-19 has left many industries in ruin; causing governments, businesses, and ordinary people to rethink how we work, socialise, and live our daily lives. Often accused of being a “a solution without a problem”, society is now turning to disruptive technology as to overcome modern challenges.

Overcoming Social Distancing

One of the benefits of XR as a medium is its ability to make people feel immersed in a shared space, without the need to leave the house. While this may have been taken for granted previously, the ability to connect with people during these trying times is key.

There are tons of apps to try when it comes to social VR, far too many to list here, all with different use cases and advantages. These apps allow for custom social spaces, so often have something for everyone.

In the past, celebrities have performed exclusive comedy shows in AltspaceVR, offering a variety of host tools to the performer. On the other hand, Oculus venues allow you to continue experiencing your favourite artists concerts or sporting events as if you were there.

Staying Healthy: Physically and Mentally

Unlike most other gaming mediums, VR has always had a unique reputation as the healthier option. Beat Saber, for example, has proven itself as an excellent workout option, despite it not being a development or marketing focus for the game.

This area has expanded to include dedicated fitness titles offering exercise from the comfort of your own home. VR fitness tool, YUR, even allows you to record your progress just through gaming.

VR offers more than just games in this regard too. VR can remove you from your environment, and provide therapy and relaxation in a time that many need it. Some experiences target this specifically, putting users into dedicated meditation spaces within even the busiest of homes.

For many, the loneliness caused by compulsory isolation will begin to take its toll. Boston startup, XRHealth has been offering VR telehealth services since before the outbreak. They have now begun harnessing XR to offer healthcare professionals the opportunity to interact with their patients and monitor their conditions remotely, eliminating the need for personal exposure. 

These patients can benefit from a range of breathing exercises, guided meditation, 360 film, physical activity, cognitive exercises, as well as support groups with other patients, where they are able to share experiences & discuss their fears to help cope in isolation.

Virtual Events

Given that large gatherings and travel bans were some of the first restrictions to be imposed across the world, one of the first effects we saw of the COVID-19 was the cancellation of events.

This put many events in a difficult situation, with venues, speakers, and much more already in place, they stand to lose a great deal from the outbreak. As an industry that largely benefits from the knowledge sharing and networking opportunities at these events, such cancellations have undoubtedly been disappointing news for many of us.

The events that are still able to proceed, have either made the decision to postpone or move the event online. Given that there are still many question marks surrounding how long the restrictions could last, and the financial losses involved with the crisis, most have gone with the second option.

There are many options for streaming your panels, talks and other elements of your event online, however, many of these are harder to monetise and are limited in functionality when compared to the in-person counterpart. Most of all, they ignore a huge element of why people go to events; the networking.

Conferences that utilise VR can allow for people to connect from across the world like they would at a physical event, without the need for international travel. Given that many events are being forced into this option, if successful, it could change the events landscape forever.

There are many choices for this. Various social VR platforms offer the functionality, but few are built to handle large scale events. At this stage in time, social VR platforms still lack features and a  level of customisation available compared to when running a physical event. Having said this, with so much newfound emphasis on the area, this could change with expected improvements being made in the future.

For now, many events have chosen a mixed solution where they stream the event into virtual reality, as well as allowing people to join from traditional devices such as PC, mobile & tablets.

Free download: COVID-19 XR Support Guide

The complete Academy COVID-19 resource built under the guidance of the Academy Steering Board. Complete with financial support, hygiene guidance, and all our top tips for navigating this difficult period. 

About the author:

AIXR is an independent, community first, not for profit organisation that exists to support individuals and companies of all sizes as the International trade body for immersive technology industries. AIXR or, The Academy of International Extended Reality, hosts the VR Awards annually. AIXR’s mission is to support individuals and companies in the immersive industry by endorsing, inspiring, and enabling innovators through removing barriers to entry and connecting a diverse collection of trades together.

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