IEEE Talks Digital Reality: Q&A with Raj Tiwari

Raj Tiwari

Raj Tiwari is Lead Co-chair of the IEEE Digital Reality Initiative. In this interview, Raj provides his insights on Extended Reality (XR) and its potential for changing how we live, work, learn and share, providing information on use cases for the technology and highlighting its importance for both enterprises and individuals as we move into a new transformational era. An organizing committee member for IEEE’s Technology Time Machine 2018 (TTM 2018) symposium, Raj will be speaking and moderating November 1st on the Mixed Reality Panel, speaking on the Distinguished Experts Panel, and launching the World’s first and unique Extended Reality (XR) certification for professionals at the upcoming IEEE Technology Time Machine symposium in San Diego, California, presenting his views as a futurist and recognized digital transformation leader.

Q: How is the IEEE Digital Reality Initiative working to advance XR?

Raj Tiwari: As Lead co-chair of the IEEE Digital Reality Initiative, a critical area that has been identified by participating members is a need to foster the highest level of participation from industry stakeholders to help drive the democratization of XR. The IEEE Digital Reality Initiative is shaping the industry and working to develop an ecosystem and to establish a common platform for the industry where key players can come together to access information, connect, and collaborate on how best to advance and leverage XR for maximum benefit. One opportunity we’ve acted upon is the creation of a web-based platform called Digital Reality Exchange (DRX), which is intended to provide an access hub of virtual and augmented reality providers for enterprise and business customers interested in learning more about the technology and how they might benefit from its application in their space.

Q: What are some of the current use cases for XR?

Raj Tiwari: Training is a big area and one where a lot of work is being done. Being able to place trainees in a fully immersive virtual reality environment has a number of benefits, making for very good use cases whereby you enhance training and collaboration of individuals in very complex virtual environments. For instance, in training simulations, you are able to immerse a user from anywhere in the world into a fully accurate rendition of a factory, building, surgery simulation to trained doctors, oil rig, etc., so that you save costs on travel while also broadening the working knowledge of employees that might be called upon to work at a particular facility in the future. When we think of augmented reality, that involves utilizing smart glasses capable of “seeing” digitally overlaid information in the actual physical environment, and with mixed reality one can combine all these capabilities into a comprehensive virtual training environment. Moving forward, we will see organizations utilizing XR in a wide variety of use cases in order to streamline processes and bolster their competitiveness.

Q: Who are the early adopters and what are their findings utilizing XR?

Raj Tiwari: Studies of traditional training methods and XR-enabled training are showing that XR has achieved notable increases in trainees’ accuracy and productivity. Industry reports point to a general consensus that XR has moved beyond the initial adoption phase and we are entering the next phase in the technology’s adoption where it will be more widely embraced across a number of industries. Many organizations are using XR training methods in industries such life science, automobile, education, aerospace, marketing and more, which is truly an indicator of its value as a training tool. I would encourage companies both large and small to explore the opportunities XR offers, particularly as it applies to training.

Q: What are some other areas where XR comes into play?

Raj Tiwari: I think you have to consider the technology’s impact on collaboration and productivity—two things that are intertwined in the workforce. XR is a key enabler in building global team collaboration and improving productivity without employees having to travel and meet physically. Employee safety training is another area where XR is having a positive impact and it is also playing an active role in how products are marketed and sold, allowing for virtual marketing and product demonstrations. Of course, there is also enhanced capabilities for engineering design review and improving manufacturing processes to streamline production and increase productivity. What’s clear is that there is a wave of expansion taking place that will lead to new use cases and the continued acceleration of the technology’s adoption.

Q: How do you see XR’s role in workforce training?

Raj Tiwari: I think you have to consider that we are in a transformative period where individuals are required to quickly adapt to new business methods, skills and new technologies in the work place. In fact, XR can play a key enabling role in advancing the adoption of new technologies. This is going to continue to be a major issue moving forward, as companies are challenged to retain staff and provide timely training on emerging technologies and new processes. In today’s competitive environment, there are three pillars of success: Adoptability, Agility and Creativity. XR is the catalyst to help businesses stay ahead of the technology curve and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving technology and business environment.

Q: What are the important XR considerations for enterprises?

Raj Tiwari: When you consider that artificial intelligence and autonomous systems will have a measurable, growing impact on how we live and work, we are seeing a transformation of our world that is not comparable to what’s taken place in the past. Today, it’s more difficult than ever to anticipate what might be coming in regards to new technologies. What we do know is that XR will play a key role in preparing the workforce to overcome challenges and embrace new opportunities as they emerge. That will be a boon for businesses and enterprises across the board.