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Rekha M. Menon, chairperson and senior managing director, Accenture in India
Rekha M. Menon, chairperson and senior managing director, Accenture in India

Immersive tech presents significant opportunity: Accenture’s Rekha Menon

  • Through our industry collaborations and alliances, we’re identifying new areas of application across sectors, and offering guidance, strategy, content and tools to deliver impactful XR-enabled experiences to our clients, globally

Bengaluru: Virtual is the new reality, precipitated by the covid-19 pandemic that has brought about long-lasting behavioural changes, where technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) would be embraced more than they would have in the pre-pandemic period. Extended or XR technologies are impacting industries from healthcare and hospitality to education and retail. In an interview, Rekha M. Menon, chairperson and senior managing director, Accenture in India decodes the potential of XR in India. Edited excerpts:

What is the potential for XR technologies in India?

Extended Reality (XR) is a disruptive set of technologies that includes virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, which can address problems in a whole new way. The global market for XR is expected to touch $160 billion by 2023, while in India, the XR spending will exceed $6.5 billion by 2022 from around $2 billion in 2020, due to growing smartphone penetration. This creates opportunities for new products, content and services, improved audience experiences and operational efficiency, presenting India with a significant economic opportunity. Indian businesses are already taking advantage of XR technologies. XR technologies also offer the export-oriented IT services industry and deep tech start-up community new global opportunities. They have the potential to improve social outcomes and drive inclusive growth, making these technologies along with Artificial Intelligence key enablers of India’s socio-economic progress.

What is Accenture doing to accelerate the use of XR technologies?

Through our industry collaborations and alliances, we’re identifying new areas of application across sectors, and offering guidance, strategy, content and tools to deliver impactful XR-enabled experiences to our clients, globally. We are also investing in R&D to identify new XR use cases and working to make it more accessible. For example, we have developed the immersive collaboration platform that provides an immersive interactive experience using VR hardware, but also supports iPads and desktops, opening up the experience to a lot more people.

Is India ready to realize these opportunities?

Businesses are already experimenting with these technologies, and there’s a thriving innovation ecosystem with 170+ start-ups, and many large technology companies investing in R&D to address bottlenecks around hardware affordability. We are seeing a massive uptake of cloud technologies in India, and 5G could soon be a reality, which will create the foundation for deeper and broader scale use of XR. The virtual economy precipitated by the covid-19 pandemic has brought about long-lasting behavioural changes, and people are likely to embrace XR’s potential sooner than they would have pre-pandemic.

What are the major risks associated with XR technologies and how can we ensure responsible adoption?

There are privacy and cybersecurity risks if information is captured and exploited by the wrong people. There could also be a risk of people being deceived by fake experiences, which could have detrimental socio-economic and political fallouts. It’s imperative that mitigating strategies be built early into the ecosystem. Businesses, government and the innovation ecosystem need to come together with neuroscientists and psychologists to devise these strategies. Responsible design and ethical use must be baked into the way XR solutions are brought to market. In a way, we have an advantage and an opportunity to build responsible design frameworks now, so that when the infrastructure is ready, the industry is ready.

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