Orlando’s influence as a nurturing hub for AR, VR, and XR tech companies – from the startup phase to established power players – was a hot topic at the world’s leading conference for all things XR.

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In early June, the Orlando Economic Partnership (OEP) team attended AWE 2023, the world’s leading conference for all things XR, in Santa Clara, Calif., to demo Orlando’s digital twin, spread the news of the city’s flourishing tech ecosystem and share metaverse innovations happening in the Orlando region.

The three-day event opened with an AI-powered hologram keynote speech, establishing the high energy carried through panels, tech demos and conversations among XR’s global leaders. Looking to get a pulse on the future of the industry and what it means for Orlando, the team successfully returned with takeaways that everyone eyeing the metaverse should know.

AI and XR are not in competition

Many of the speeches and panels OEP attended focused on the same overall theme: AI is not replacing XR any time soon. This became abundantly clear during the opening keynote from Ori Inbar. While the words of his speech were written by ChatGPT, the actual interface of his hologram was maintained by XR. Throughout the countless conversations we had, everyone agreed on the same thing: XR would be the vehicle in which the world will interact with AI. The relationship, importance, and applications of AI in XR are being developed right now, and the possibilities are countless.

The metaverse isn’t dead

Even though there’s been chatter about the metaverse waning, it’s only just beginning to tap into its full potential. OEP’s time spent on the convention floor and attending panels truly showcased how there is still so much more innovation and learning to be done about the metaverse. As a hub for all things XR, Orlando is poised to be at the forefront of the next big metaverse solution.

Orlando companies are leading the way

The team was thrilled to catch up with 302 Interactive, NuEyes and Unity in California. All three Orlando-based powerhouse companies were in attendance, showcasing their latest XR innovations across gaming design, wearable smart glasses, and urban design respectively. In conversations on the floor, Orlando’s influence as a nurturing hub for XR tech companies – from the startup phase to established power players – became clear, both to the OEP team and to potential Florida newcomers.

Representatives from 302 Interactive and NuEyes teamed up for a fantastic discussion on AR in healthcare. The two companies developed NuLoupes, a solution supporting medical practitioners to leverage AR in training and operational practice together. The device gives surgeons a bird’s-eye view of the operating room, magnifies the viewer’s perspective and more from a position best suited for the doctor. The presentation covered how XR’s healthcare applications can work for patients and practitioners alike along with their shared vision for the future.

We’re excited for what is next

On day three of the conference, there were whispers abound about what Apple would be announcing at WWDC. While everyone knows now that it’s game-changing Vision Pro headset, people could feel the anticipation in the room as everyone made their guesses on what type of VR tech the company would unveil after years of rumors. Apple tends to change the way consumers interact with technology, so it will be interesting to follow how Vision Pro pushes the XR industry along – and how Orlando companies will lead the charge. Beyond Apple, the opportunities to VR for good are only beginning to reveal themselves.

Next year’s AWE conference will level up and take place in a bigger venue in Los Angeles, Calif. This further proves that XR is becoming more important to everyday society, and people are interested in watching the next big thing in the industry unfold.

What does this mean for Orlando? As the home of the MetaCenter, local companies are already leaders across all sectors of XR. OEP is excited to watch some of the trends discussed during the conference, including AR in healthcare, the importance of AI in XR, XR’s impact on society and how it can be used for good play out in our thriving tech hub across the next year.

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