Posted on July 20, 2018 by staff

Immersive tech ‘will replace the smartphone’


Immersive tech like that seen in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster Ready Player One is around the corner, according to a South Korean tech entrepreneur.

The movie adaptation of Ernest Cline’s popular novel features characters which live almost exclusively within virtual reality and can move freely in the real world to duplicate those actions in the virtual space.

Benjamin Song, founder and chairman at South Korean 360 video firm Thirteenth Floor, believes all business will use immersive technology in the future.

“The tech from the [Ready Player One] movie is coming soon – it can almost do those things already,” he said.

“Within five years the AR and VR market will be ten times bigger than it is now –  the tech is developing faster than the mobile phone, so that’s what we are expecting.”

Song was speaking to BusinessCloud at the two-day AR & VR Conference at Manchester Metropolitan University. South Korean government organisation Gyeonggi Content Agency flew its AR/VR project teams into Manchester for the conference as part of a global collaboration project.

The conference also saw tech giants such as BT and Microsoft exhibiting the latest augmented and virtual reality technologies alongside a programme of talks and presentations from sector-leading experts.

Renegade Fortress MR developer Ash Clement told us that immersive technologies are “currently for big corporates”.

“At the moment they are for people with big budgets that want to experiment,” he said. “We need it to become more consumer-focused.

“In a few years’ time, when cheaper smaller headsets come down, it will eventually replace the phone and every other form of interacting with tech.”

The Media City-based company works with mixed reality technology that scans the user’s area so that their environment becomes part of the immersive experience.

For example, it offers companies fire safety training using MR that makes it look as if there was an actual fire, so employees can safely practice exit procedures in their own office.

Clement says the key to immersive technology is about how companies display information.

“They’re currently restricted to a screen but what MR does is allow us to break that information out into the users’ own environment,” he said.

“Everyone interacts with things in a different way so we give them customised experiences. Whether it’s reading or talking to an interactive presence, it’s all about how people want to interact in a more intuitive way.”

The conference was aimed at developing new business partnerships and investments for Korean immersive technology companies in the UK. Those chosen to travel to the UK included Charm, a firm which collects cultural property & tourist attraction information based on AR position awareness technology.

Divecore, which produces VR experiences by converting images to VR content, was also there and is featured in our video above.