Technologies like virtual and augmented reality are becoming much more mainstream as the hardware requirements continue to drop in price. In many cases, a mobile phone is all you need to take advantage. The maritime industry stands to benefit enormously from the application of these tech types, yet fear of excessive cost still seems to be a barrier to entry. XR is not a ‘blue-sky’ toy any more, and understanding more about how these tools are developed, and how their use can provide tangible ROI is vitally important to their continued adoption in the sector.
What is XR?
Extended reality, colloquially known as XR, is an umbrella term referring to all real and virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions. The 'X' represents a variable for any current or future spatial computing technologies. The most well-known technologies include, augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR).
XR has exploded over the last few years and is changing the way we do things in many sectors. XR was already on a steep growth curve before COVID 19 but has been given even more momentum during this time. The 'digital transformation' has been accelerated by this pandemic and XR is directly influenced by this.
What Kind of Applications Exist For XR?
There are so many useful applications for XR. Training of crew and shoreside personnel is a standout and multiple studies are showing that XR can bring improved results for retention & understanding. XR can also significantly reduce the need for traditional classroom facilities.
Advertising and Marketing also stands to benefit - XR is a very ‘sexy’ tech with a lot of wow factor, and because of that, it gets a lot of attention. Sometimes this alone can justify its use.
Sales reps can also benefit from using XR tech – as with marketing and advertising, sales reps can allow potential clients to experience new products and innovations in an immersive way without having to have a physical product to demo.
How Is XR Applicable to Evolving Needs Within the Maritime Sector Post COVID 19?
Training of crew can be looked at in a new way with XR. Students can participate in lessons remotely but enjoy the collaboration and interactions commonly found during in-person settings. This tech can also provide an immersive and engaging tool for reintegrating crew during quarantine periods and during ramp-ups back towards operations, something that many companies, particularly cruise lines, will need to consider within the coming weeks and months.
Classroom facilities themselves can also be greatly reduced, which cuts down on overheads, and allows for greater social distancing. XR also allows for a global audience to be present simultaneously, opening up completely new markets to educational establishments with traditionally limited catchment areas.