By Shane Klestinski, Associate Editor

 

Amy Peck, CEO of Endeavor XR, delivered the first keynote address of the Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Association (VRARA) Central Florida Immersive Technology Summit 2024 with her presentation, “The Future of Immersive Technologies,” April 18.

 

Her talk focused on “building better humans,” and how technology can elevate human performance. Peck began her talk specifying on what she meant by human performance enhancement and training because “everyone approaches it a little differently,” due to multiple understandings of those concepts she’d seen throughout the tech industry. For Peck, human performance is a measure of what people can achieve with their bodies, with special emphasis on physical and mental readiness to accomplish certain tasks.

 

“When we think about human performance training, we think about special forces, professional athletes, or high-performing corporate teams – we think of it in terms of elite training,” Peck said. “Human performance is really for everyone, and the multitude of technology that’s available today is really going to help us accelerate our capabilities.”

 

Throughout her presentation, Peck played video clips of products that were either currently on the market or in development, which demonstrated the potential of immersive technology to improve people’s lives in meditation applications, physical training, and cognitive skills. The videos’ focus indicated an end-to-end, holistic approach to wellness and human performance, which led into Peck’s discussion of various technologies that she said will combine and impact how people improve their skills and overcome disabilities.

 

During her presentation, Peck described wearables, virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and human/computer interfaces that were poised to be especially influential, and she noted some examples that already are.

 

“We’re all probably wearing some kind of smartwatch or tracking device,” Peck said. “These types of wearables are probably going to expand, [such as] ‘smart fabric’ that can let us know how our bodies are doing. Are we dehydrated? How is our body temperature? Are we feeling stressed? This data is there for us to learn about our bodies and how to manage our own wellness.”

 

With such technology, Peck explained, people could take more control of their wellness at home, and they would have less need to look to their physicians or trainers. She transitioned to discussing “implantables” (implanted technology), such as healing chips and other devices that harnessed a person’s own electricity in the body to power them.

 

Peck listed five aspects that were significant in using immersive technology to improve performance and wellness, which weren’t actually technological, but focused more on mind/body/spirit needs: mindset, social, movement, nutrition, and recovery.

 

“I would argue that mindset is one of the most important, because without mindset, we don’t look at all the other aspects,” Peck said. “We need a clear vision, and we have to want to do this. This seems really challenging but if you think about it, you can do small, incremental things every day to exercise more control over your own health.”

 

Instead of beginning with a cross-fit training program to take active control of their wellness, Peck advised attendees to take small, low-tech steps. To get started, she recommended that people “just go for a walk,” meditate for 10 minutes, think a little more about what they ate, and rest.

 

“Rest and recovery are critical,” Peck said. “When I was young, I used to say, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead,’ and I’d wear it like a badge of honor. Now if we say that, we’re going to get our wish – we have to take care of ourselves.”

 

Later in her presentation, Peck stated that “we are the number one problem for ourselves” in overcoming personal obstacles to improve human performance.

 

“In our belief systems, we all have our little insecurities, but we can overcome them, and that’s why the mindset piece is so important,” Peck said. “It’s much easier to change and adopt new habits when you decide to do it than when a physician tells you that you have to do it, which goes back to mindset.”

 

Due to rapid changes in technology and other factors, Peck emphasized that people would have to become comfortable with learning and unlearning the things they know using the concept of “a limber mind,” which would help unlock their potential, especially in working with immersive technology. According to Peck, the future will offer different sensory experiences than what is available today, as well as “different kinds of data around us all the time” that will be useful if people can train their minds to understand that data in ways that are inconceivable today.

 

“We really are limited only by our own belief systems… but we can break the shackles of what we think are our limitations,” Peck said. “We are on the precipice of unlocking an incredible landscape of human capability in concert with technology, but we have to be much more creative about it and not just solve problems. [We need] to think about this in terms of elevating the human experience.”

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