Despite all the incredible ways in which technology has advanced and transformed our world in recent years, the way we interact with it – the human interface of technology – has advanced surprisingly little.
The keyboard I’m writing this article on would be immediately recognisable to someone using an early typewriter 150 years ago. Even on a smart phone, our digital experience is reduced to a slab of glass smaller than a postcard. And while it can connect you immediately to anyone around the world – for the person sat next to you, the experience can ironically be very isolating.
Technology has advanced much in society – made us faster, connected us and given us access to several lifetimes’ worth of information at the touch of a button. But the human aspect of technology hasn’t kept pace. There’s still a big barrier between the physical world and the digital world.
However, the fast-emerging field of immersive computing – technology that serves to bring down these barriers – is poised to transform this age-old status quo.
Here’s four ways in which immersive computing is changing the way we interact with technology:
Immersive computing is allowing more natural remote collaboration. For instance, the Sprout Pro by HP introduced for the first time natural touch on a desk surface, combined with a projection screen. This enables you to collaborate with people in multiple modes – you can see them on the vertical screen and show physical objects on the horizontal screen. A global bank uses the technology to serve remote branch customers. Multiple advisors from across different areas of expertise, from mortgages to insurance, can be brought together in front of a customer in a single session.
Advisors can sketch on a piece of paper on their desk, which appears live on the desk in front of the customer, to help illustrate facts and figures or review contracts collaboratively.
Immersive computing is also about 3D capture – 3D scanning physical objects quickly into a digital workflow and a 3D model. A simple physical product such as a shoe or a kettle would take 10 to 15 hours to recreate using digital tools, but can be scanned – with perfect accuracy – in around four minutes.
We see graphic designers and artists using the technology to scan real objects into their digital workflow, including highly intricate natural forms such as the gnarled bark on a log, that would be almost impossible to accurately reproduce ‘manually’.
Recent advances in virtual reality are creating experiences that capture the imagination in a way that technology has never before enabled. Ideas and imagination are brought directly into your digital workflow. And it isn’t only for entertainment and gaming uses. VR solutions are being used for multiple commercial and public sector mission-critical applications. Audi, for instance, use HP VR devices both in a retail environment – to let customers experience its personalised car before it’s been built – and as part of its product design workflow.
Immersive computing can enable deep personalisation of products, bringing new economic models to the retail and manufacturing sectors.
As infants exploring the world around us, we intuitively learn through touch. We don’t need an instruction manual to use a pen to draw. We pick up and hold objects, and when we close our eyes can immediately enter a new world of imagination.
Interaction with technology should be just as intuitive and fluid, and it’s these driving principles that inform the development of immersive computing. It’s time for the humanity of technology to catch up with the power of technology, to help us collaborate better, capture reality, take physical experiences into the digital world, and start to build a world around us that is personalised to every one of us.
HP will be at the SingularityU South Africa Summit in Johannesburg on 15 – 16 October 2018 to continue the quest to accelerate Africa’s culture of innovation. Lets #futureproofAfrica.
By Michael van Lier, Southern Africa District and Channel Sales Manager, HP South Africa