Digital MagazineYear 2021

The XR trend: why is it so crucial?


XR is not about being cool. Its number-one value lies in how your brain receives and processes information.

karen snyder – tym studio

By Karen Snyder – Managing Director & Producer, TYM Studio & Digital Media Lecturer, University of Houston

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Noticing the XR trend of industrial enterprises committing to the adoption of AR/VR/MR to improve safety, efficiency, and costs? COVID has radically altered business outcomes. Besides, it has accelerated the need for companies to enhance their training, sales, marketing, and internal communications.

You can see this trend from multiple sources. Research firm Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the global market for AR/VR technologies will reach $661.4 billion by 2025 (2021).

A 2021 field service industry survey by Librestream notes 54% of enterprises are planning an increase in their AR investments. For instance, with 82% planning at least a 20% increase.

The U.S. Space Force is also developing VR training for national security satellites (Washington Post, 2021). ExxonMobil worked with students to create a VR electronic engineer training simulation. Also, AR warehouse parts placement app during the XR Showdown™ (2020).   

Juniper Research predicts software providers are moving beyond video calls into interactive tools for collaboration; think serious video games for events and communications.

Also, healthcare is leaping into video games. The FDA approved the first video game as prescription medication last year. Accordingly, Texas Children’s Hospital in partnership with TYM Studio is developing the world’s first hospital at-home care video game. Dr. Susan Blaney, Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Cancer & Hermatology Centers, notes; “Our hope for the future of serious games in healthcare is that we can integrate them into the daily care of our patients and have our outcomes be optimal.”   

In fact, Microsoft just released Mesh to enhance virtual collaboration for Hololens 2 (AR Talks, 2021). Facebook unveiled more VR tech with additional hand tracking (The Guardian, 2021). And let’s not forget all the new and upcoming hardware choices such as Tilt Five, Varjo, HTC Vive, Vuzix and more.  


XR is not about being cool. Its number-one value lies in how your brain receives and processes information.

Your brain is trained to process 3D information in the physical world. Moving into a digital 3D experience helps your brain process more information which makes for better synapse connections (i.e. memories). Therefore, the more your brain lights up with synapse connections from processing inputs; sound, sight, touch, movement, written words; the higher the possibility of long-term memory retention.

This is why VR training has been proven for long-term memory retention. VR completely envelopes the user with 360-degree visuals, sounds, movement, and written words; everything the brain likes to eat up and process. Pricewater House Coopers released a study that noted that training employees with virtual reality is 4X quicker than traditional methods. Plus, it’s cheaper with average training costs of $195 per trainee when using VR versus $207 to $265. The latter, with traditional methods (2020).


Your brain loves to be surprised and to discover things. It lives for the chemical rush of humor, mystery or a cool fact to mull over. Therefore, scarring the brain with a good chemical rush means a long-term memory is made.  Thus, developing training, sales, marketing, and internal communications to take advantage of “play” and “doing” is extremely important to outcomes.

Dr. David Putrino, the Director of the Mount Sinai Abilities Research Center has an entire study about how play helps unlock the brain to better absorb information. Putrino notes; “We ran a six-week rehabilitation in which half the participations played a game while the other half did traditional rehab. The results highlight that the same dosage of therapy, if it’s done in a fun environment, goes further than if delivered in an environment that is not fun.”

Sadly, many enterprise organizations totally miss this advantage. Thus, leaping into virtual reality without a quality story just means the bad habits of horrible PowerPoint will follow you into the virtual space.

Therefore, forget the headset, more companies need to focus on creating a meaningful experience.


All this rush towards enhanced technology communications means lots of new jobs. For instance, someone has to be hired to create XR within an enterprise. A team to handle 3D art production, video game engine programming (which are used to code most of these simulations), and user experience design. In fact, this is no easy task.

Showdown collaborations produced by TYM Studio with companies and partners throughout Houston have been helping bridge the gap of training and placing young talent in these new jobs.

Accordingly, the 2019 Healthcare Games Showdown™ involved student teams creating healthcare video games for Texas Children’s Hospital, AT&T Business, and Mount Sinai Abilities Research Center. The 2020 XR Showdown™ with presenting sponsor ExxonMobil had students creating VR/AR/MR for serious use.


Documentaries of the Healthcare Games Showdown™ and the XR Showdown™ will premiere at Studio Movie Grill theatre during the Houston Tech Rodeo. Also, young talent will be on-hand to showcase XR demos.

In brief, together we can transform XR communications.

About the author

Karen Snyder, MFA

Snyder is a Professor of Digital Media at the University of Houston and the Managing Director of TYM Studio. TYM Studio™ is a collaboration between numerous professors and professionals to provide students with paid work and real experience that drives ingenuity and job growth in technology and digital media industries. By developing innovative and empowering internships, we seek to bring value to employers, our programs, our communities, and our students.

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