Today forced by COVID-19 anyone is living a new way to experience meeting, cocktails, travels, museums and more. Digitalization has heavily touched any aspect of our free time, hobbies, leisure, and, obviously, work. Let’s start examining the future of transportation and travel.
The current and in the future more evident climate changes will affect our transportation even more. Etienne Deffarges, the author of Untangling the USA: The Cost of Complexity, says
climate change will disrupt current disrupters like Uber since the proliferation of individual rides is too energy intensive and leads to intolerable levels of congestion”.
Carbon footprint (sustainable transportation), congestion (intelligent transportation), costs and physical barriers (universal accessible transportations) – these are four pillars around the future of transportations. But something has happened that disrupted the entire concept, on the 12th March 2018.
Before touching the disruption let us make a fast travel into the past of the virtual travels.
The first idea about virtual travels appeared in a short story called “Pygmalion’s Spectacles,” in June 1935, by Stanley Weinbaum. An immersive sci-fi dream where he described the ability to explore different words using special spectacles.
But what is reality? […] All is dream, all is illusion; I am your vision as you are mine.
“The Sword of Damocles is widely considered to be the first augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD) system, although Morton Heilig had already created a similar apparatus (known as “Stereoscopic-Television Apparatus for Individual Use” or “Telesphere Mask”) earlier, which got patented in 1960. The Sword of Damocles was created in 1968 by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland with the help of his students Bob Sproull, Quintin Foster, and Danny Cohen.” (from Wikipedia)
People have never stopped inventing new things. Thus, in 1975 appeared Videoplace platform by Myron Krueger, dark rooms with large video screens that surrounded users in a sort of VR. The platform used computer graphics, projectors, video cameras, video displays and position-sensing technology without goggles or gloves.
MIT created Aspen Movie Map in 1977, which was the first-person interactivity application made with a car driven through Aspen City and taken photographs. And this led us to Google Street View in 2007.
And so on. NASA has created different VR projects – Virtual Environment Workstation Project and Computer Simulated Teleoperation. Popular game and consols developers started to produce various opportunities to experience Virtual Reality.
The Virtuality Group presented Virtuality, machines with real-time gaming via a stereoscopic visor, joysticks, and networked units for multi-player gaming. This was the first mass-produced VR entertainment system.
SEGA announced SEGA VR-1, a motion simulator arcade machine, and Nintendo launched the Virtual Boy console which played 3D monochrome video games.
Finally, with launching a Kickstarter campaign for Oculus Rift in 2012 the idea of Virtual Reality got its ”traditional” frames – a headset and usually a joystick.
In the last 100 years we have imagined different ways to access to different words, virtual or remote localities from our sofa.
But as we mentioned before, something happened that changed completely our ability to imagine the travel sector, some more minutes and we arrive there. Just give us the opportunity to explain how we have arrived there, and, overall, what the implications of this approach are.
From Virtual Reality we have moved rapidly to something different, more immersive and personal, and more “controllable” – the Embodied Reality. We imagined the ability to travel into other person’s body, to feel their emotions, to switch our gender, to perceive a different body.
All the previous ideas about physical limitation were smashed by a simple concept: the embodiment.
And now we can control drone, robots, avatars, and other people.
It’s not necessary to indulge too much on embodied realities because we have already covered it in a previous article, but we want to focus on the main idea behind embodied: the bodily self-consciousness. To be more precise we can divide it in three main areas, according to Serino, Alsmith & Costantini:
With adding to these points the Brain-Computer interface, your mind will be blown up contemplating the infinite opportunity in front of you to explore unlimited worlds.
At the same time, we discover the ability to collect stimuli and transfer them, and we are at the beginning of something new, a new economy and revolution, and we are ready to move from the IoT (Internet of things) to the next big wave – “Internet of Senses”.
Early technology adopter consumers expect the “Internet of Senses” to become a reality by 2030, according to Ericsson’s latest ConsumerLab Hot Consumer Trends report
The concept involves technology interacting with our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, touch and more, enabled by AI, VR/AR, 5G and automation.
“The survey of 46 million early technology adopters from 15 cities around the world predicted that over the next decade, screen-based experiences will compete with multisensory ones that will be almost inseparable from reality.” as reported by Ericsson.
Main drivers for the Internet of Senses include immersive entertainment and online shopping, COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis, and the corresponding need to minimize climate impact.
The concept of the internet of senses are built around 8 main attributes:
And now let us show you a small preview of how, here at X+, we envision experiences.
We imagine them as a collection of various stimuli, in a hardware agnostic solution, capable of adapting itself to users’ needs and devices. Not only video and audio, but also taste, smell, touch, temperature, humidity, wind, and more.
And, finally, the big shift we’ve announced some minutes ago: on 12th March 2018 a new XPRIZE was launched (XPRIZE is a non-profit organization that designs and hosts public competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity). The goal of the XPRIZE was to disrupt travels.
And the company who sponsored the XPRIZE is ANA (All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd., also known as Zennikkū, is the largest airline in Japan by revenues and passenger numbers.).
The $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE aims to create an avatar system that can transport human presence to a remote location in real time
The ANA Avatar XPRIZE can enable the creation of an audacious alternative that could bypass physical human limitations, allowing us to more rapidly and efficiently distribute skills and hands-on expertise to distant geographic locations where they are needed, bridging the gap between distance, time and cultures. – Peter h. Diamandis – Founder
This XPRIZE represents the sum of the whole trends we saw before: a non-autonomous Avatar System with which an operator can see, hear, and interact within a remote environment in a manner that feels as if they are truly there.
These avatars can be applied in diverse scenarios, such as:
Thanks to embodied experiences we are building a sustainable, inclusive, and accessible future. Embodied Realities will create a world where anyone can connect with society regardless of any limitation or constraint — such as a physical disability, economical status, and time availability — that otherwise may have prevented them from doing so.
Yet the desire to travel will not go away: In a recent survey by Skift Research, the research arm of the travel trade publication, one-third of Americans said they hope to travel within three months after restrictions are lifted. – New York Times
But most probably the physical travels will be only a small percentage of our total time spent in travelling. Soon, we will be able to choose more sustainable, economical, and fast alternatives to physical travels, and these options will have increasingly the same level of engagement.
“Travel is going to become even more meaningful for everyone,” says Tom Harding from Nemo “Sustainability and ethical practices will be a given.”
This is one of the possible scenarios we might experience in the incoming future: a very inclusive and sustainable one, populated by emerging technologies where devices will merge with our brain. What will happen in the meantime, while we will move to this future of abundance?
As reported by Phocuswire, there will be four possible scenario based on different changes in travel behaviors, including a wide range of collective shifts in societal attitudes about the why and how we travel, and the level, and the depth of economical crysis, the depth and duration of the economic recession will impact companies across the entire travel industry.
Plus these two axes are influenced by potential game-changers as: the speed/penetration of online experiences in the travel market, the adoption of the ‘other’ realities such as the Virtual or Cross Reality, the perception and the worries about hygiene level, as well as the persistence of social distancing rules.
Nobody has the ability to predict when these transformations will occur precisely, which year, or in what percentage and locations these scenarios will occur.
We certainly know that this pandemic has forced us to think outside the box, to find new solutions and be more resilient.
New challenges await us, and, consequently, new opportunities.