By Chris Donkin

BT consumer boss bullish on MR and AR

Augmented and mixed realities could become a major revenue multiplier in the coming decades, BT Consumer CEO, Marc Allera, predicted as the operator targets further partnerships to take advantage of the emerging technology.

In an interview with Mobile World Daily, the executive said AR and MR offered a range of opportunities with the emerging metaverse ecosystem potentially providing “the chance for retail environments, social media platforms, sporting and entertainment platforms and mapping technologies to merge the physical and the virtual”.

In the enterprise sector, he noted these technologies could “remove some of the demand on physical spaces, allowing users to share virtual office space,” adding: “companies can instead host all platforms, tools and applications in the cloud, or at the network edge, and provide VR/MR/AR devices to staff to access them”.

Allera said BT planned to continue making investments in the AR/MR sector, while improving its 5G network to reduce latency to aid the delivery of more responsive and reliable applications using the technology.

Although highlighting the positives of the emerging technology, he also acknowledged a number of challenges holding it back.

“AR/MR certainly needs to generate greater user engagement to encourage people to use the technology more frequently,” he noted. “There is also a skills shortage that needs to be overcome to inject new creativity into the broader development ecosystem.

“AR/MR applications also need to fully embrace and leverage mobility, especially 5G, to reach their full potential. This will require investment and greater focus on developing 5G native headsets. Current headsets do not support 5G and therefore lack power, are not sufficiently reliable and are too expensive for mainstream market adoption.”

Allera is speaking at the Blurred Lines: Augmented Reality in Everyday Life session, on Wednesday 2nd March.