Immersive Reality (IR); many of us have seen it, if not experienced it. People have immersed themselves in “virtual reality” to solve a problem, learn to build a jet engine, hunt down Pokémon, destroy aliens or pick out furniture for their living room without going to Ikea!
IR is not as new as you might think. One of the first immersive devices was the “Sensorama” invented by cinematographer Morton Heilig in 1957. The Sensorama delivered visuals, sounds, vibration, and smell to the viewer. However, the device was the size of a small phone booth and never practical for home or mobile use.
Over the years, the technology has improved leading to Google Glass in 2013 and Microsoft HoloLens in 2015. Add to these technologies Apple’s introduction of Augmented Reality (AR) via the iPhone, and now several million people have access to the technology making IR one of the fastest growing tech segments in the marketplace with a market size of well over 100 million users.
IR technologies, both software and hardware, are beginning to come of age and the IR industry is becoming a very real force in the job market. In the first nine months of 2018 there is already approximately 21,000 postings requesting AR/VR job skills in the U.S. That’s a relative increase of 256% compared to 2012. Considering the buzz around these technologies, it is clear that skilled people are going to be needed to continue the momentum. But, where are the jobs? Employment opportunities in IR are not confined to the gaming industry and not just for software developers. Opportunities exist in the hardware field, sensors and Internet of Things technologies, artists and designers, and of course, software developers. Here are just a few of the industries hiring IR professionals:
- Construction, Industrial Design
- Education, Translation
- Emergency Management, Disaster Recovery, Medical, Search and Rescue
- Games, Sports, Entertainment, Tourism
So, what key skills are these industries looking for? High on the list are game designers, Unity developers, and User Experience/User Interface (UX/UI) designers and researchers. Bellevue College Continuing Education has accepted the challenge of preparing students to fill the skills gap and now offers certification programs in game design/development and UX/UI.
IR has gone from a carnival curiosity to reality in less than 50 years. There are numerous IR applications in use or under development today, however, the technologies will only take off universally when enough skilled professionals work with UX designers who think about how they can integrate IR with daily life to improve productivity, efficiency or quality of experiences. There is an unlimited potential for IR. The big question is, how will the future be unlocked and who is ready to take on the challenge?
Mark Veljkov, Program Director – Technology Solutions
Last Updated September 12, 2018