For the last few years, we at I-Connect007 have increased our coverage of the technology and end-product development trends that drive growth and advancement in the PCB fab and EMS industries. Obviously, the largest and most diverse event regarding the depth and breadth of technological progress and advancement is CES, which lets us get updates and allows us to focus on anything from drones to 3D additive PCB fabrication, from autonomous transportation and the degree of electronics in the newer and upcoming vehicles to the quantum computers and AI of the near future, from the forecasts found in science fiction of the ‘60s and ‘70s to the reality of 21st century technology.
As our increased coverage has gotten the attention of some of the major tech companies involved in these segments, our access to them and relationship with them has grown. Recently, it was suggested to us that we begin coverage of some of the more focused events regarding the trending and possible mega-trending of key electronic industry segments.
A few months ago, Flex—one of the most respected companies in the design and manufacturing of systems for augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, as well as other segments—asked if we would be at the upcoming AWE show and if so, would we be interested in attending their event where they would review their latest developments in this field. After very little discussion and no hesitation, our decision was yes. If we are going to keep our readers up to date on the latest trends and opportunities, we must not only stay up to date on the developments and therefore the future of these industry segments, we also have to do it through the events that focus on these upcoming megatrends.
While we will continue to cover the ever-broadening spectrum that is the technology design and manufacturing industry, we will also cover events that focus on the most promising, interesting and fastest growing tech segments such as CES—and the AWE event was a great place to start to expand this coverage.
Augmented World Expo (AWE USA) is perhaps the largest event for professionals focused on providing (and doing it now) the science-fiction-like superpowers through augmented, virtual, mixed reality and associated wearable technology.
As we have increased our coverage of this growing trend (see my previous articles here, here, and here) the definition has evolved. Yes, there are still some purely virtual reality segments such as 3D movies and holographic displays, and there are augmented and mixed reality segments such as virtual tours and design applications, but the most promising areas with the greatest potential encompass a mix of them all. Therefore, I am embracing the recent trend. I will no longer refer these segments as AR, VR, MR, etc., as there is so much overlap; the new term to include it all is XR.
So when we talk about XR, remember that this includes virtual reality (totally virtual world), augmented reality (inserting a virtual world into and overlaying real world reality), and mixed reality (which is a combination of these as well as other real or fictional universes). All are now falling into the XR term. XR can be walking through a 3D re-creation of ancient Rome, it can be used to play the next generation of Pokémon Go searching for a virtual being in the live world, or it can be using a holographic image and remote control of robotic surgical equipment, perhaps connected by a different megatrend—the upcoming 5G—to eliminate lag and allow a surgeon in one part of the world to operate with great precision on a patient half a world away.
It can be used to control a military weapon on the attack from a focused control center or it can be used to direct a troubleshooting session directed by a leading expert on the device or system needing repair or calibration, even though that expert is far away.
For those of you who have watched the ‘90s sci-fi favorite “Star Trek, Next Generation,” you know the vision of what is possible: the Holodeck. The Holodeck was a prediction of what could be accomplished in the next 200 years. In fact, in less than 30 years some of the basic technology pictured, such as advanced computing power, has already been eclipsed. I predict that the Holodeck will exist and that it will not take anywhere near another 150 years; in fact, some of it is happening now.
Over the next week we will cover some of the presentations, demonstrations, amazing new product and idea announcements, as well as actual demonstrations we saw at AWE. We will look into the rapidly approaching future as seen at perhaps the most visionary and awe-inspiring event I have attended in my over-half-a-century involvement in the high-tech industry. The AWE event not only focuses on XR it seems to be a hub that ties together many of the upcoming megatrends and rapidly advancing technology that will be commonplace in the mid-21st century.