The 5 Hot Tech Advances for Digital Content from 2019 to Beyond

Most of us reading this article are in some way digital content creators and many of those will be involved in developing carefully thought out strategies to deliver this effectively. Terms such as real time ray tracing or the concept of a 6G network may seem alien to us, yet they could form an integral part of the digital content we produce and share in the future.

There’s no doubt that content is king in the digital age we live in and there are some exciting things happening right now as well as in the not so distant future which will change the game for us all.

This article highlights five of the tech advances relating to this with an overview of the opportunities they could bring.

So what’s happening right now?…

1. Real Time Ray Tracing

First question, real time ray tracing – what??…and it’s a totally fair one for those who are not au fait with the technical jargon relating to 3D rendering.

Ray tracing is a 3D rendering methodology that has been used for a number of years to deliver highly accurate and realistic lighting, reflection and transparency effects for digital 3D assets.

It’s been around in traditional CGI production for a long time, however through realtime ray tracing game engine software packages such as Unreal Engine and Unity it is now possible to produce these ultra realistic effects very quickly and efficiently.

By quickly, it means very quick, which is actually in real time. This is as the eye sees it (at 60+ frames per second) rather than over longer periods of time per individual frame as in traditional rendering methods.

This has been made possible by the advances in the GPU hardware technology (graphics cards) that computes the complex algorithms to deliver the realistic output, specifically the Nvidia RTX platform that was released in 2018.

This advance will not only take video games to the next level of graphics, it opens the door to many other sectors advancing via virtual, augmented and mixed reality.

Beneficial 3D content can be created for immersive experiences relating to property marketing, construction, education, workplace training, healthcare and many other sectors, all in stunning photo realistic detail.

Creating these realistic experiences can bridge the gap between the virtual and real world to deliver powerful, meaningful and memorable messages to a user that is relevant to the purpose of the application being developed.

2. AR and Smart Retail

To date the use of augmented reality within the smart retail sector has been cleverly utilised particularly in wearable AR and product visualisation. Many retailers are developing apps so you can either view or interact with a potential purchase via your mobile device wherever you are in the world.

Trying on virtual clothes, shoes or jewellery has been made possible through intelligent tracking technology combined with slick user experience design to lead you right through from browsing a web shop to the final transaction process.

Products for such apps can be captured as virtual objects either through traditional 3D modelling or 3D scanning. This results in a detailed and accurate representation of a retailers product lines being produced. The quality of 3D scanned data is improving every day with new products that speed up the process of digitising real life assets and creating those all important virtual products.

Developers of the cutting edge apps relating to this will be working hard on integrating the realistic virtual content now available via real time ray tracing (discussed above). This will deliver a higher standard of realism and ultimately a better consumer experience for the end user, inevitably increasing sales.

Many retailers are also looking beyond mobile to deliver such experiences on the high street which could bring a very different and futuristic feel to our day to day retail experiences when we shop in store as well as online.

3. Fibre for all

A little further down the line and taken with a large pinch of salt was the recent press release on the intention of Boris Johnson to deliver fibre connections to all homes in the UK by 2025. It’s noted there are some question marks on whether this is realistic, however if it happens then a huge boost in productivity relating to digital content would be the result.

With so many of us involved in creating and distributing content such as 4K video, the delivery and accessibility of this would be massively increased through high quality streaming and the addition of super fast downloads and uploads taking place nationwide.

4. But do we really need fibre? – Over to you 6G!

5G has now hit the UK amongst much controversy but already 6G is being discussed further afield. SK Telecom the Korean tech giant are currently collaborating with Nokia and Ericsson of Scandinavia to look at researching and developing ways to implement and structure a 6G network service.

Obviously this is early days for 6G and its level of performance is not known, but with this already in the pipeline could there still be a need for fibre for our content creation and delivery in the future? Something for Boris to think about maybe?…time will tell.

5. Finally, one for the future…or is it sooner for Apple AR?

Through the points discussed above, it seems digital content creation, accessibility and delivery are developing nicely, although particularly in the AR market there is a big question around wearable devices.

We think about AR glasses such as the failed Google Glass or mixed reality platforms like Microsoft Hololens and have to wonder when the next big player is going to come forward with a solution that really dominates the market.

No doubt behind the scenes every large tech firm is thinking about this and have R and D teams working on it around the clock. This therefore begs the question of when will Apple show its hand?

There were reports in March this year that Apple is developing holographic lenses for AR in its Colorado based labs. Could this be the first mainstream wearable AR device? It’s a complicated market with various technical bottlenecks, although with an unparalleled track record in terms of other product releases, lets standby with the rest of the tech world and see what Apple can deliver.

We hope you found this article of interest and should you have any questions relating to the creation of 3D content or any of the other topics discussed, please feel free to leave a comment below or click here to get in touch.

Ed Richards-Bond

3D Visualisation Artist at Archi-Vista