Feb 5, 2024
The concept of the "immersive internet" signifies the next phase in the evolution of the online environment, moving beyond static web pages and images to create more engaging experiences that foster shared interaction and collaboration. This evolution includes technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
While some may use the term "metaverse" to describe this phenomenon, the term "immersive internet," finding the former to be overly hyped and laden with various connotations. The internet is continually evolving, transitioning from static pages to the social and mobile web. As it progresses, the focus is shifting toward immersive experiences that facilitate richer user interactions, which is essentially what people mean when discussing the metaverse.
The standout technology of 2023, generative AI, aligns with the immersive online experiences expected in 2024. It has applications in creating digital worlds, designing environments, artwork, and generating characters. This technology holds promise in reducing the time required for designing 3D environments, as acknowledged by Mark Zuckerberg. It also contributes to producing realistic characters for various applications, from customer service chatbots to lifelike characters in entertainment experiences.
Immersive online experiences go beyond visual and auditory engagement. Haptic gloves, under development, offer sensations of weight and pressure, enhancing the sense of manipulating objects. Other devices aim to fill in missing senses, such as smell, by introducing scented vapors. Prototypes of full-body suits are emerging, enhancing the overall sensation of immersion in digital worlds.
Mixed Reality - AR And VR Convergence
The convergence of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) holds immense potential for building the immersive internet. Combining these technologies creates mixed-reality environments where the boundaries between the real and digital worlds blur. This convergence could be seen in scenarios like live concerts, where virtual and in-person attendees experience the event differently but concurrently.
More Powerful, Versatile, or Lighter Devices
The release of Meta Quest 3, Meta Quest Pro, and Apple's flagship VR device in 2023 is followed by potential launches of Apple's AR glasses in the coming year. These devices aim to offer new experiences, high-end refinement, or simplicity, addressing the current barriers to adoption, such as size and weight concerns.
Immersive Training and Education
Beyond gaming and entertainment, VR and AR find significant applications in training. The immersive nature of virtual learning environments accelerates knowledge absorption and skill application. In 2024, platforms facilitating immersive virtual learning will witness continued growth, enabling smaller organizations to participate in this trend.
Augmented reality is already used by brands for virtual try-ons and visualizing products in personal spaces. In 2024, streamlined interfaces and enhanced user experiences are expected, contributing to the emergence of more sophisticated mixed-reality retail experiences. Offline stores will also integrate online retail elements to create a seamless shopping experience.
Collaborative platforms for remote work will become more immersive and functional in 2024. With the increasing popularity of remote and distributed work, mixed reality tools leveraging VR and AR will capture subtle aspects of interaction, enhancing collaborative working experiences.
Immersive Customer Experience
The trend towards more immersive and engaging customer experiences involves incorporating VR and AR throughout the customer journey, from marketing and sales to support and after-sales services. Brands will invest in building virtual environments for interactions, aiming to convert customers into lifelong fans.
As the internet becomes more immersive, the issue of online safety becomes crucial. The immersive and realistic online environments of the future will require careful consideration of procedures and safeguards to mitigate potential harm. Strategies for applying safeguarding measures in these environments will be a significant part of the discourse in 2024.
The "Immersive Internet" represents a pivotal shift beyond static web content, embracing technologies like AR and VR to create engaging online experiences. While some may use the term "metaverse," the preference for "immersive internet" underscores a focus on richer user interactions. Key trends for 2024 include the impact of generative AI, the development of multi-sensory technologies, the convergence of AR and VR, advancements in device capabilities, the growth of immersive training and education, the evolution of retail experiences, collaborative working platforms, and the integration of immersive elements in customer experiences. As the internet evolves, prioritizing online safety within these immersive environments becomes paramount, requiring careful strategies and safeguards.