Report: Innovation, standardisation enabling XR experiences
August 3, 2023
As new devices entice the consumer XR market, a white paper commissioned by InterDigital, a mobile and video technology research and development company, and written by market research firm ABI Research, details the standards, solutions, and emerging challenges shaping new extended reality (XR) opportunities.
The report, Defining the XR Experience: Enabling the Immersivity Ecosystem, introduces the strong foundation of wireless and video innovation that underpin the spectrum of XR experiences, including AR, VR, and MR, and stresses the importance of standards to ensure compatibility and combat technology fragmentation across the various devices, networks, and systems that empower XR experiences. While consumer adoption of XR headsets and services has been relatively slow, the report points to improvements in device hardware, content capture, encoding, and XR-specific content distribution capabilities as critical components to fuel future growth of the XR market.
Seamless immersive XR experiences depend on a variety of factors, including headsets equipped to process high resolution, high framerate, multi-view content, and spatial audio, and a network capable of meeting XR’s low latency and high reliability demands. Among the existing standalone, tethered, and mobile-based solutions for VR devices, not all headsets are able to host compute capabilities within the device. Most require rendering to be split across the network, often imposing delays and other hinderances to truly immersive experiences. Recently introduced devices like the Apple Vision Pro have shown improvements in haptics, eye tracking, and other metrics of accuracy that enhance the immersive experiences that devices can provide.
“Today’s XR capabilities are forged from innovations in wireless and multimedia that enable us to capture audio, video, haptic, and kinesthetic data into one scene representation and transmit that complex XR traffic across our networks to achieve a seamless blend of our physical and virtual worlds,” said Rajesh Pankaj, CTO, InterDigital. “These new “realities” would be impossible without long-term research and contributions to standards from companies like InterDigital, which help improve network capabilities, evolve compression techniques, and ensure the interoperability of devices and services for this growing ecosystem.”
The report attributes the growth of the immersivity ecosystem to foundational improvements in video compression and delivery protocols and the myriad benefits provided by standards. Video standards body MPEG has begun to explore XR experiences with standards study efforts around dynamic mesh coding, haptics, and scene description research. In addition, MPEG’s Visual Volumetric Video-based Coding (V3C) standard, comprised of MIV (MPEG Immersive Video) and V-PCC (Video-based Point Cloud Compression), has set up definitions for encoding and streaming volumetric content, which is expected to be among the most challenging XR content types in terms of capture, processing, and delivery. Within wireless standards, 3GPP has dedicated significant activity to enhance the 5G system to better support XR traffic, while addressing how the 5G network can become more “XR aware”.
“XR is a perfect storm of hardware and content requirements that make it a challenge to support: high resolutions and frame rates, interactivity, mobility, and novel data types like haptics and spatial tracking” says Eric Abbruzzese, Research Director with ABI Research. “Increasing efficiency across the XR pipeline from creation through distribution benefits both users and operators. As XR adoption grows, ensuring interoperability across devices and ecosystems also becomes critical, ensuring a healthy developer and content ecosystem enabling high-value content to users while minimizing user experience friction.”
The report argues there is progress to be made in every facet of XR, and standards remain integral to empowering the new capabilities and ensuring compatibility in ways that users find valuable. Looking towards the future, the XR ecosystem will continue to explore new “XR aware” network capabilities, new XR accessories and supporting hardware, and solutions that enable multi-user support for XR and user tracking and positioning, among other opportunities.