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by Catherine Antheunissens,

Innovation trends linked to virtual reality as a tool for the digital transformation of traditional sectors.

Just a few years ago we thought only of virtual reality as a highly innovative technology linked, almost exclusively, to the entertainment sector, mainly in the service of video games. Today, however, its applicability crosses many sectors, which we should not ignore if we want to take advantage of and squeeze the benefits offered by this technology.

To discuss the latest trends in innovation, specifically linked to virtual reality, the 22@Network BCN association held its 169th 22@Breakfast, the first to kick off 2023, promoting the exchange of ideas on the combination of traditional construction techniques and new technologies.

The debate began with Roc Parés, artist and research professor of interactive communication at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Parés started by explaining the differences between augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and reality and mixed reality (MR), the combination of which is what we understand as Extended Reality (ER), defined as the field of interactive communication based on the digital generation of stimuli in real time.

Roc gave a presentation on "interactive audiovisual creation as knowledge production at the intersections between Art, Science, Technology and Society (ACTS)", in which he talked about the applicability of virtual reality beyond its conventional uses, showing as an example some of the most pioneering projects he is carrying out as a researcher at the Pompeu Fabra University.

Parés insisted on "the transfer of knowledge is not unidirectional from the university to the students. Through the students' projects, we actually seek to transfer the advantages offered by virtual reality by applying it to projects with social impact."

The event took place in the Entegra building, an ideal place to show how virtual reality is participating in the transformation process of traditional sectors, such as construction. Filipe Martins, director of Urban Input Asset Management, the management company of the Entegra building, explained how Entegra reflects the combination of sustainability and innovation, fundamental values of Urban Input's business model, latent from the charred wooden façade to the application of virtual reality to visit and market this project.

After the event, the attendees were also able to experience first-hand the use of virtual reality glasses to visualize an office space reserved in the Entegra building, which allows them to visualize the different forms and methods of furnishing and distribution that can be used in the same space for office rental.

Frédéric Sanz, collaborating partner of Urban Input and CCO of Univers, who has put this technology at the service of the management company, explained the enormous potential offered by virtual reality, and the challenge of its own limitations, which consist basically in the fact that it is an individual experience. That is why Sanz has stressed Univers makes a totally transversal bet, offering services with a wide applicability in different sectors and overcoming its own limitations, through a conceptual change in which virtual reality is conceived as a "collective experience, with freedom of movement, interactive and within reach of many people."

During the 22@Breakfast celebration, it became clear that digital transformation has brought about a disruptive change in our daily lives, giving rise to a paradigm shift that is transforming many sectors, from education or culture to industry.

As added by Isabel Sabadí, executive director of the association, the promotion of this type of debate contributes to one of the ultimate objectives of 22@Network BCN, which is "to participate in the process of change that 22@ wants to lead as an innovative district in its commitment to continue advancing in a bid to ensure that innovation translates into a positive social impact."


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