Will this decade be the decade digital-reality technologies become mainstream? Will they reach their full potential to enhance life and business in ways we can only begin to imagine with the applications we’ve seen to this point? If the rumors are true, tech giants like Apple are working to make mixed reality a reality in ways we haven’t seen before—for instance, by engineering a super-lightweight headset that’s even lighter than an iPhone. Last year, Apple reportedly acquired NextVR, a provider of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) content, and Apple CEO Tim Cook has made tantalizing comments about leveraging AR in sectors like healthcare, education, retail, and automotive.

The digital reality space, which includes technologies like AR, VR, and MR (mixed reality), is set to grow immensely during the 2020s. MarketsandMarkets estimates the VR market will reach $20.9 billion by 2025, up from $6.1 billion in 2020. Forecasts that go farther out suggest even more potential growth. Fortune Business Insights has released its forecast for the global VR market, suggesting it’ll reach $84.09 billion by 2028. The research firm suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has helped the digital reality space along by forcing businesses and other organizations, such as schools, to find novel ways of collaborating, communicating, and learning.

Recently, Hexagon, a provider of digital-reality solutions that combines sensor, software, and autonomous technologies for applications across the industrial, manufacturing, infrastructure, mobility, and public sectors, launched new autonomous-reality capture solutions into its portfolio of digital-reality capture sensors—Leica BLK ARC (autonomous reality capture) and Leica BLK2FLY—both for release later this month. The Leica BLK ARC is an autonomous laser scanning module for robots. When paired with a robotic carrier, like the Boston Dynamics Spot robot, BLK ARC enables autonomous mobile laser scanning of environments, including remote environments and environments that aren’t safe for humans, such as mines and offshore facilities. Users can chart scan paths remotely using drawings or BIM (building information modeling) data from buildings and other spaces.

Hexagon’s Leica BLK2FLY is a fully integrated, autonomous flying LiDAR UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). The device offers autonomous flying laser scanning abilities for industries that can benefit from the ability to scan entire structures and environments from the air. BLK2FLY ensures optimal and safe flight paths thanks to advanced autonomous obstacle avoidance that leverages LiDAR, radar, cameras, and GNSS (global navigation satellite system). The solution captures colorized 3D point clouds that allow users to produce 3D models, drawings, and visualizations. Hexagon says both solutions, BLK ARC and BLK2FLY, connect to HxDR, its cloud-based visualization platform. After uploading data from the field, AI (artificial intelligence)-enabled cloud processing and storage enable instant delivery of a smart digital reality to users.

The company recently acquired a special mapping and visual positioning company called Immersal. With the acquisition, Hexagon gained Immersal’s years of experience developing special anchor technology based on AI and machine-learning technologies. As digital reality technologies advance, applications in industries like construction, agriculture, urban planning, and more will follow. With projections suggesting this market is poised for a growth spike in the next several years, it’s likely digital-reality technologies will become a norm in many different industries, adding a new layer of immersive reality to many different situations.

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