Subject matter experts discussed new developments in extended reality (XR) in specific fields during the panel, “The New Frontier of XR Training: Revolutionizing Aviation, Aerospace, and Healthcare,” at the MetaCenter Global Week conference Oct. 17.


The moderator was John Cunningham, president of the AR/VR Association’s Central Florida chapter, and participants included Jude Tomasello, program manager for the Defense Health Agency’s Medical Simulation and Training Program Management Office; Miguel Arias, principal investigator for Orbital Outpost X, Inc.; Douglas Farjado, Xennial Digital CEO; and Dano DeBroux, senior director of business development at Magic Leap.


“XR” has become an umbrella term in the tech community that covers all the immersive technologies that are currently known – like augmented, virtual and mixed realities – as well as other immersive possibilities that haven’t yet been created.


Cunningham began by asking the panel their thoughts on the biggest technology development they’d seen that was driving XR’s adoption. He also emphasized that XR involves more than just headsets, and it include phones, 3D displays, and haptic devices (especially significant in medical training simulations), among other factors.


“It’s two things,” Farjado said. “Hand tracking, because it’s the way we naturally interact with the physical world… and artificial intelligence (AI). AI will be a key piece of how we integrate XR and scale that technology.”


When conversation turned to the challenges to scaling XR, Tomasello noted that, from the government’s perspective, sometimes barriers don’t have to do with technology itself, but a lack of relevant application, or the tech doesn’t tie into the necessary business outcomes.


“We like and need technology, but when [contractors] are looking at requests for proposal or requirements, don’t just throw technology at it,” Tomasello said. “Research that requirement and target what your technology brings to that requirement, and you’ll have a much better chance [of success]. I’ll read a proposal that has some dynamite technology, but it misses the target [of the government’s needs] and then you’re out of luck.”


The panelists, representing the space, healthcare and aviation sectors, typically had different answers throughout the discussion that reflected the focuses of their respective industries. Although those industries had different problems to solve, they were all using the same technology to solve them to one degree or another. Cunningham noted that while aviation has been using XR for approximately 15 years, “and now they’ve reached a ‘tipping point’ where they’re ready to run,” other fields, like healthcare, would need more time before it hit a similar stage that would see widespread use across training in the industry.

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