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Print and Extended Reality

Source: Karis Copp, Print Media Centr, November 17, 2020

Well, we’re not together again just yet. Who else is nostalgic for the naivety of spring, when we thought the situation might be short-lived? Now we’re in autumn, and I think many of us are a bit more pragmatic about the short-term and long-term impact of the pandemic.

I have written before about how COVID-19 has accelerated many existing trends, and in this article, I’m focusing on the way in which we are hurtling into a hybrid world. The Economist’s latest Technology Quarterly highlights a concert attended by 12 million people by rapper Travis Scott which takes place in the video game Fortnite, weddings and graduation ceremonies taking place in other video game worlds, and video platforms like Microsoft Teams’ ‘Together’ mode which takes people out of boxes and into the same virtual space to more closely simulate ‘real-life’. The virtual is blurring into the physical, whether we like it or not.

Extended reality (XR) is the collective term for all physical and virtual ecosystems, including augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality. These technologies aren’t new, but they are seeing new doors open as a result of the pandemic. A 2019 PWC report predicted that virtual reality and augmented reality could potentially add $1.5tn to the global economy by 2030, even without a helping hand from the pandemic.

The seamless integration of the digital and physical worlds is already underway and customer journeys are becoming increasingly complex, with a growing focus on immersive and interactive brand experiences. There is so much more potential to be realized when it comes to utilizing extended reality as a frictionless, smooth experiential tool, but it’s important that marketers and brands understand the tools and what is required from a software and design perspective.

The challenge for a print service provider is manifold: how will this change your sales process, how will affect how your teams and co-workers collaborate, how will it change your interactions with vendors? How we do business is rapidly evolving, and those who print will need to master these new tools and realities as much as anyone who operates a business.

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