Ongoing challenges across the virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality (VR/AR/MR/XR) industries have tasked some of the largest tech firms in the world with building interoperable systems, solutions, and infrastructure needed to realise the full potential of the Metaverse.
The Metaverse, the next iteration of communications combining spatial computing and the Internet, is set to transform both enterprises and consumers at rapid speeds and completely redesign social contracts as well as business operations.
XR Today speaks to Vishal Shah, General Manager of XR and Metaverse at Lenovo, about the company’s ThinkReality System and how it will fuel the growth and expansion of solutions for developing the Metaverse.
Lenovo remains a leading player in building enterprise-level metaverse solutions capable of driving digital transformations, connecting remote workers, and streamlining business operations for greater continuity as well as meeting sustainability targets.
XR Today: What makes the Lenovo ThinkReality system a comprehensive one for building the enterprise metaverse?
Vishal Shah: Lenovo’s ThinkReality portfolio of XR solutions helps accelerate the adoption of the next generation of wearable computing — offering smarter technology to enable smarter workers.
ThinkReality’s cloud-agnostic ecosystem of hardware and software solutions offers enterprises more choices in building and deploying XR technologies to improve their business operations.
#ThinkReality A3, the most versatile enterprise smart glasses, ever. Yes, we said glasses 🕶 A customized, expanded personal workspace, no matter where your office happens to be👉 https://t.co/wSaRo7oyWH#SmarterTechnologyforAll pic.twitter.com/njOgwKgfjX
— Lenovo Partner (@LenovoPartner) August 2, 2022
With our three-pillar approach, we’ve prioritised delivering the best software, hardware and services to customers, regardless of company size. We have also seen the quickest adoption across the manufacturing and industrial sectors, and for education and training.
Recently, Micron leveraged ThinkReality technology to manage a fleet of devices to help scale its business into the future. The company’s manufacturing team implemented ThinkReality in just a few months, putting it in a strong position to deal with the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
XR Today: What are some of the most crucial emerging technologies needed to build an enterprise metaverse platform?
Vishal Shah: At Lenovo, we see the opportunity to power the world’s critical metaverse ecosystems by delivering on the building blocks of what we do today: To offer flexible and secure solutions across core and emerging technologies.
There are multiple layers to the Metaverse, and Lenovo’s goal is to offer solutions at each stage.
We have the Creation Layer — how content is built — and we can see how interest in the Metaverse creates job growth for 3D artists and engineers today. Lenovo has the capabilities to provide hardware and offer services to help fuel this category.
There is also the Visual Layer, where 3D apps and tools develop next-gen solutions. We have a great ecosystem of partners and independent service vendors (ISV) that fit within this category and are also key partners in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces XR Developers Program.
For content delivery, 3D workflows are moving to the cloud to provide networked access to important data, remote rendering, greater storage, and eCommerce.
The Delivery Layer is where distributed computing is a critical component to enable greater device utility. Lenovo’s ThinkReality XR solutions, ThinkShield security solutions, ThinkEdge edge computing solutions, and services play a critical role here.
Display Devices such as the Lenovo VR S3 headset and our A3 Smart Glasses allow us to interact within this Metaverse, and 3D devices are also becoming more mainstream and viewed by many as one of the key tools to fully experience it.
XR Today: Can you tell us more about ThinkReality’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform and why it is key for helping companies to manage their metaverse solutions?
Vishal Shah: The Lenovo Cloud Portal ThinkReality platform is designed to manage AR/VR devices along with the content and applications for those devices. With it, users can access development tools to create or customize applications, manage and store assets, and deploy content to devices.
Dashboard allows users to view in a single screen all users, active devices, deployed apps, and types of applications in use, while User Manager allows IT administrators to invite new users to the portal, assign users specific roles, update user info, and change user roles as needed.
Portal’s Device Manager also allows IT admin to add new devices, view all devices in the organization — even for third-party devices — and confirm system authentication and remotely configure settings for devices connected online.
App Manager also allows IT administrators to add apps to the platform and deploy them to specific users or user groups, where they are installed automatically.
Finally, Dev Portal provides IT admin with access to our software development kit (SDK), extendable sample apps, and tools to create AR and VR applications and view regular updates to the SDK and platform.
XR Today: How has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces enabled the development of Metaverse solutions and which standards has it contributed to Lenovo and the greater industry in general?
Vishal Shah: With its proven technology, Snapdragon Spaces offers an open, cross-device horizontal platform and ecosystem to bring developers’ ideas to life, revolutionizing the potential of head-worn AR.
The first devices to commercialize Snapdragon Spaces are now available in a developer hardware kit that includes the Lenovo ThinkReality A3 smart glasses coupled with a Motorola edge+. The two devices pair seamlessly to give developers full access to Snapdragon Spaces and endless exploration opportunities.
Lenovo’s partnership with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces program supports the development of AR applications and helps to grow the enterprise AR market. This has enabled the creation of Metaverse solutions by offering developers environmental understanding capabilities to build AR experiences for headsets or smart glasses that combine elements from the virtual and the real world.
Snapdragon Spaces reduces developer friction by providing a uniform set of AR features independent of device manufacturers. It is also compatible with the Khronos OpenXR specification to enable application portability and is the first head-worn AR platform optimized for AR smart glasses tethered to smartphones with OpenXR standards conformant runtime.
The platform enables developers to build 3D applications for AR glasses from scratch, or add head-worn AR features to existing Android smartphone applications to drive a unified, multiscreen experience between the smartphone screen in 2D and the real world in 3D.
XR Today: Do you see the need for greater interoperability between your company and others as they move forward to the Metaverse? Where does Lenovo see cross-collaboration as ideal?
Vishal Shah: Absolutely! Interoperability is key to developing an open and more valuable Metaverse. Currently, the most important initiative is having a common set of standards for XR application developers as it will accelerate innovation in this space, along with other firms’ ability to scale into the Metaverse.
This is why Lenovo is energetically supporting Snapdragon Spaces. From its inception nearly four years ago, our ThinkReality team has been dedicated to the mission of making it easier for enterprises to build, deploy, and manage XR solutions to help our customers scale them across the enterprise. We believe siloed, device, and software-centric platforms will not fulfill today’s growing vision of what the Metaverse could mean for enterprises and consumers.