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2024 Industry Trends Report
Jan 1, 2024
Photo collage of industries 3D renders

Technologies for success

Emergent technology is constantly reshaping workflows across sectors. The tech itself may change from year to year, but organizations rethinking their processes to keep up is a constant.

With revolutions in accessible AI, groundbreaking XR hardware, better data processing, and other key innovations, industrial applications of these advances seemed to evolve at a breakneck speed in 2023.

This e-book gathers insights from experts across a range of sectors, each offering perspective on the technologies they think will drive the greatest impact for their industries in 2024 and beyond. The contributors span automotive, retail, energy, and infrastructure to show you the breadth of potential uses in different fields.

These eight snapshots reveal how innovation leaders are combining the latest tech with physical experiences in their space – and how they anticipate these changes will impact their products, clients, and customer experiences.

Experts see these four major trends shaping the coming year:

  • Streamlining the end-user experience with better interfaces
    • Breaking hardware boundaries in automotive
    • Mainstreaming XR adoption with wearable headsets
  • Tapping into big data for greater operational efficiency
    • Making big data accessible with a predictive digital twin
    • Improving facilities management with AI, AR, and digital twins
  • Driving energy transition with data visibility
    • Enhancing emissions transparency with digitization
    • Using digital twins to democratize data
  • Elevating digital retail experiences with emergent tech
    • Revolutionizing luxury retail with immersive technology
    • Designing customer-first luxury fashion experiences

Read on to discover perspectives from eight tech-forward organizations on where things are heading in 2024 and beyond.

Streamlining the end-user experience with better interfaces
Automotive, professional research
Human-machine interface (HMI), extended reality (XR), training
TomTom, i2CAT Foundation
ROK ERJAVEC / TOMTOMVice President of Engineering

Breaking hardware boundaries in automotive

Faster iteration with modular hardware

In the automotive sector, one of the key considerations is whether car hardware can become more modular in terms of how it functions. Right now there are long development cycles, but technology moves much faster than that.

The challenge is to improve the ability of the OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] and their suppliers to iterate faster, which allows developers and manufacturers to make changes at a quicker pace without waiting months for production to start.

Device-free transition outside the car

In addition to this, I believe we will see more sophisticated integration between the hardware and software. Many OEMs are already working towards this. With these developments, the automotive experience becomes more immersive. For example, today you need your phone with you to be able to transfer the personalization settings and experience you have in the car to a different environment.

Maybe in the future the software platform of the car will evolve to the point where it is a seamless transition. So you don’t need a device with you, as long as it knows it’s you and it recognizes you by physical appearance – the experience is just there for you wherever you are. For that, the ecosystems could be very different to what we see today.

Learn more about TomTom.

Discover Unity’s solutions for automotive.


Mainstreaming XR adoption with wearable headsets

Intuitive and lightweight hardware is key

The future of XR depends on many factors. Technologically, it is super exciting. It moves so fast that every few months there is something new, especially since AI emerged. Maybe what’s holding it back is the hardware, because it’s bulky, sometimes expensive, and somewhat limited. The real moment of wide XR adoption, like smartphones now, will be when devices are really lightweight, so you don’t even notice you’re wearing them.

Right now, the hardware (such as headsets) are used by a niche set of users, mostly gamers and in some cases in industry. Tablets and smartphones are also used for AR, but again you always need to have a device in your hand to be able to use the application.

AI accelerates development

AI is crucial in speeding up XR development and enabling us to reach higher quality more quickly. With AI, we will be able to address the challenges in creating a 3D digital world. However, we need to operate carefully because AI can bring advantages and disadvantages.

At i2CAT, we focus on recreating the real world and using AI to make those representations more accurate in terms of appearance and behavior. However, AI can also be used in deep fakes and false representations. As a society, we need to ensure that we have the right regulations in place to tackle this.

Learn more about i2CAT Foundation.

Discover Unity’s solutions for XR.

Tapping into big data for greater operational efficiency
Infrastructure, airports, facilities management
Digital twin, augmented reality (AR)
Vancouver International Airport, Visionaries 777

Make big data accessible with a predictive digital twin

Real-time visualization of information is crucial for digital twins. It allows for airport staff to proactively monitor operations and address issues before they escalate. Additionally, the true value of a real-time 3D digital twin lies in its ability to provide a live snapshot of ongoing operations, providing insight into current events, recent occurrences, and future projections.

In the dynamic environment of airport operations, where various complex systems and stakeholders must seamlessly collaborate, having this interactive, real-time view is indispensable for delivering top-class service.

Learn more about Vancouver International Airport and read about how they’re using digital twins in this case study.

Discover Unity’s digital twin solutions.


Improving facilities management with AI, AR, and digital twins

The convergence of emerging technologies is reshaping the way we learn, work, and interact in the workplace. Three key areas of innovation – AI-driven predictive maintenance, enhanced digital twins, and passthrough AR technology – are poised to revolutionize operations, optimize efficiency, and unlock new levels of productivity in multiple industries.

AI-driven predictive maintenance

AI-driven predictive maintenance is gaining traction as a powerful tool in facility management. By harnessing AI algorithms to analyze historical data, equipment logs, and maintenance records, facility managers can identify patterns and anomalies that signal potential equipment failures. Armed with this information, managers can proactively schedule maintenance activities, minimizing downtime and maximizing asset performance. AI optimization further streamlines maintenance schedules, prioritizes tasks, and suggests efficient strategies, resulting in cost savings and improved operational efficiency.

Embracing AI-driven predictive maintenance enhances asset reliability, extends equipment lifecycles, and ensures optimal facility performance, all while minimizing disruptions and maintenance costs.

Enhanced digital twins

Digital twins are receiving a significant boost from emerging technologies such as Nerf (Neural Radiance Fields) and Gaussian splatting. These advancements enable the creation of highly accurate and immersive digital representations of physical spaces.

Industries are leveraging digital twins for a range of applications, including training, facility management, optimization, and safety assessments. By harnessing the power of Nerf and Gaussian splatting, organizations achieve improved operational efficiency, enhanced training simulations, and better decision-making regarding facility management and safety evaluations. Digital twins become invaluable assets in optimizing processes and unlocking insights that lead to increased efficiency and productivity.

Passthrough AR technology

While fully capable see-through AR glasses are still in development due to performance and visual quality limitations, passthrough AR technology has made significant strides. Notably, the release of Meta Quest 3 and the upcoming Apple Vision Pro headset demonstrates noteworthy advancements in this field. Passthrough AR technology allows enterprises to create immersive augmented reality experiences that surpass traditional boundaries. This milestone achievement in quality and performance expands the potential of AR headsets beyond the realm of virtual reality and gaming, making them increasingly accessible across various industries.

By embracing passthrough AR technology, organizations can enhance training simulations, improve visualization of data, and revolutionize user experiences.

Amplified by convergence

The transformative potential of these converging technologies has made it more accessible, affordable, and scalable for a business of any size to train and remotely manage people without investing in hardware retrofits. From staff in a small convenience store to huge factories with complex manufacturing processes, any employee can be self-taught and execute tasks without in-person training or supervision.

The time for action is now for business leaders as these technologies are no longer a futuristic theory. Waiting risks missed opportunities and potential obsolescence as the world moves from a 2D world to immersive 3D virtual environments superimposed through AR in the physical world. Enterprises at the forefront of this digital transformation will gain a competitive edge as ultimately these technologies empower market leaders to invest in their most important asset: people.

Learn more about Visionaries 777 and Inspekly.

Discover Unity’s digital twin solutions.

Driving energy transition with data visibility
Energy, Operations, Manufacturing
Digital twin, simulation
Highwood Emissions Management Inc, Sentient
Highwood Emissions Management

Highwood Emissions Management

Enhancing emissions transparency with digitization

Two noteworthy trends are shaping the landscape of the energy industry: digitization and increased transparency in emissions data.

Change driven by digitization

In the realm of digitization, we are witnessing a wave of transformative technologies that are revolutionizing various facets of the industry. Operational efficiency, safety, and environmental performance are all experiencing enhancements through digitization. Companies are increasingly leveraging data to gain a profound understanding of their assets, empowering them to make more informed and strategic decisions.

Greater data transparency

Unlike previous years where data primarily served for performance monitoring, the energy sector is now making significant strides in utilizing this data to predict future operational trends. Advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms are being applied to forecast equipment failures, minimize downtime, and proactively prevent potential leaks. Moreover, the industry is witnessing a surge in data collection methods, including monitoring technologies such as planes, fixed sensors, drones, and truck-mounted systems. The amalgamation of this diverse data is enabling the development of intelligence on a scale never seen before.

Building credibility around environmental impact

Simultaneously, transparency in the form of publicly available emissions data is reshaping the industry’s approach to environmental impact. Trust and credibility are paramount in the energy sector, and achieving this requires a convergence between reported emissions and detected emissions.

Various public sources of emissions data have indicated that emissions are often underreported. Consequently, the energy industry is intensifying efforts to comprehend its own emissions profiles, ensuring accurate understanding and effective reduction strategies. This trend, which gained momentum in 2023, is set to continue shaping the industry in 2024.

Opportunities for improvement

Despite the promising advancements, barriers persist. In digitization, concerns over data security and associated costs hinder progress. Overcoming these barriers necessitates a strategic approach, clear communication, comprehensive employee training, and a steadfast commitment from leadership to drive the cultural and technological changes required for successful digitization. As technology advances and organizations prioritize digital transformation, these barriers are gradually being addressed.

Similarly, the transparency of emissions data faces barriers such as a lack of standardization and the inherent complexity of measurement. Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach involving regulatory measures, industry collaboration, technological advancements, and a cultural shift toward environmental responsibility. With an increasing global awareness of the climate crisis, there is a growing emphasis on overcoming these barriers to enhance transparency in emissions data and drive positive change in the energy industry.

Learn more about Highwood Emissions Management Inc.

Discover Unity’s solutions for energy.


Using digital twins to democratize data

The democratization of data and insights is a key trend that will shape the future of technology for the energy industry in 2024. This trend refers to the ability to use AI and digital twins to access, analyze, and act on your data in ways that were not possible before.

A digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical object, process, or system that can be used for simulation, optimization, and prediction. AI can enhance the capabilities of digital twins by providing data analysis, machine learning, and natural language processing. Together, AI and digital twins can enable new levels of efficiency, innovation, and operational productivity across various industries.

How can this trend benefit your business? Here are some examples of how you can use AI and digital twins to improve your business outcomes in 2024:

  • Visual insights: Leverage your engineering models to display information in an interactive 3D virtual environment of your assets, such as power plants, utilities, and renewable systems, that you can access from anywhere and on any device. This environment can be augmented by generative AI to detect fault conditions, find patterns of high productivity which will improve remote operations, collaboration tools, and better decision making.
  • Optimization and control: Use generative AI to create a digital model of your operations, such as power grids, and use it to model and forecast the usage, production efficiency, and environmental impact. You can also use it to balance different sources of power, from coal to renewable, in the most optimal and sustainable way.
  • Innovation and design: Use generative AI to create a digital model of your new product or service, and use it to explore different design options and settings. You can also simulate the impact of weather, wear, and tear on the performance and lifespan of your product or service.

At Sentient, we have been working hard to develop automated pipelines that can be used to quickly deploy large complex 3D engineering models and enable users to start interacting with the system. Enhancing the system can be done iteratively, and solutions are driven by the users.

These solutions leverage the power of generative AI, existing organizational data sets, the immutable 3D virtual environment, and tools Unity offer to provide cost-effective value for any industry. Leveraging low-code solutions enables businesses to add value and simplify the development that is essential for these systems to be adopted by organizations in the long term.

We are looking forward to being a part of this exciting trend in the future.

Learn more about Sentient.

Discover Unity’s solutions for energy.

Elevating digital retail experiences with emergent tech
Luxury retail, consumer goods
Sales and marketing, customer engagement
Audemars Piguet, SmartPixels

Revolutionizing luxury retail with immersive technology

Enhancing retail experiences

The next technologies transforming the world of luxury in 2024 are undoubtedly immersive technologies that allow us to elevate our client experiences. Presently, Audemars Piguet harnesses immersive technology to build 3D presentations of our catalogs, showcasing our timepieces in unparalleled detail and quality.

Looking ahead, the possibilities with this technology are expansive. We could create a digital twin of a specific environment, establishing a complete digital presence, and introducing digital objects to share – ushering in a new era of luxury experiences.

Spatial computing, XR, and the future of retail

In the next 5–10 years, spatial computing and extended reality (XR) will be key technologies for retailers. With an increasing clientele of digital natives, the importance of embracing these technologies will become undeniable.

For Audemars Piguet, this technology ultimately speaks to us as watchmakers. Within our watches, where there are multiple complications in each piece, the adoption of spatial computing and XR holds transformative potential. These technologies enable us to be more inclusive and allow for our customers to fully immerse themselves, making the retail experience more memorable and therefore, deepening our clients’ connections with the brand.

Learn more about Audemars Piguet.

Discover Unity’s solutions for retail.


Designing customer-first luxury fashion experiences

Customer-centricity has never been more important for fashion luxury brands. The next step for 2024 will be one that elevates consumer experiences to new heights by putting customers and their preferences first and provoking strong emotional connections to brands.

Building immersive luxury experiences with visual digital twins

This will be possible with the widespread integration of AI-powered 3D content in the fashion industry, and, more specifically, with advancements in technologies like neural radiance fields (NeRF), Gaussian Splatting, and 3D scanning enhanced by deep learning. Together, these technologies are already enabling the creation of visual digital twins in just minutes. 

Neural rendering technology will evolve to create ultra-realistic, interactive 3D models of luxury fashion items in minutes. Customers will be able to visualize every intricate detail, including fabric textures, stitching, and color accuracy, ensuring a more immersive and satisfying shopping experience. We anticipate a seamless integration of these visuals both on e-commerce and in-store, enabling an engaging visual brand presence and ensuring that customers have a unique, high-quality experience at every touchpoint.

The ROI of digital shopping experiences

Early data shows that customers engaging with 3D visuals are more likely to make a purchase and less likely to return products, indicating a clear positive impact on the bottom line. 

This change in buyer behavior has sparked a widespread adoption of 3D-enabled experiences, with several luxury brand houses recognizing that digital shopping experiences need to move from shelf-like product category pages to personal and immersive browsing of their offerings. Navigating the categories and products should feel like a seamless journey inside the visual universe of the brand, much like a visit to a retail store.

The fashion luxury industry will also see a surge in virtual try-on experiences. Customers will have the opportunity to virtually try on luxury fashion items in real-time to make informed purchasing decisions. This technology will significantly reduce product returns and enhance customer satisfaction.

The promise of AI

Finally, AI-driven personalization will be more refined and prevalent. SmartPixels’s real-time 3D content creation can work together with AI algorithms to offer customers personalized product recommendations based on their preferences and previous interactions. This combination will result in tailored shopping experiences.

While facilitating 3D through AI technology holds great promise, there are challenges to address to fully realize its potential by 2024:

  • Scalability: Achieving consistent, high-quality visualizations for an entire luxury fashion catalog can be resource intensive. Optimizing scalability to cover a wide range of products while maintaining realism is a challenge SmartPixels is actively addressing.
  • Data integration: From collection design to marketing assets and shopping experiences, 3D digital twins rely on large datasets to generate accurate models. Integrating fashion luxury data, including real-time product updates, is crucial. 
  • User accessibility: 3D visual technology should be user-friendly and accessible, both for brands and their consumers.

The fashion luxury industry in 2024 will be characterized by a fusion of cutting-edge technologies, including 3D digital twins, augmented reality, virtual try-on, and AI. These innovations will provide consumers with an unparalleled omnichannel shopping experience, ensuring that they receive authentic, sustainable, and highly personalized luxury products.

Learn more about SmartPixels.

Discover Unity’s solutions for retail.

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