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Santa Clara, CA – Last week, the XR Association attended the Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara, CA. XRA kicked off the week on Tuesday with the XRA All-Member Meeting in advance of AWE and concluded the evening with an XRA Wine Down cocktail reception.

On Thursday, June 1, XRA CEO, Elizabeth Hyman, moderated the all-women’s panel discussion “Social Impact Starts at Home” on the main stage. Hyman joined industry experts Naria Santa Lucia (Microsoft), Jessica Lindl (Unity), and Kathryn White (Accenture). The panelists delved into crucial topics surrounding diversity and inclusion within the XR space. They emphasized the need for greater diversity in hiring, both within the XR industry and for jobs in general, and discussed strategies to foster a more inclusive XR industry. Additionally, the panelists highlighted the importance of preparing the younger generation for the future of work in XR, recognizing the transformative potential of the technology. 

Hyman engaged the audience by opening up each of the panel questions to the audience. The Social Impact survey is open to all industry professionals. 

On Friday, June 2, Stephanie Montgomery, Senior VP of Research and Best Practices, moderated the panel discussion “Innovation for All: Ensuring XR Technology is Inclusive and Accessible.” The discussion included accessibility experts Jazmin Cano (OwlChemy Labs), Athena Demos (Big Rock Creative), Dylan Fox (XR Access), and Yao Ding (Meta). The discussion centered around making XR technology accessible to persons with disabilities. The panelists emphasized the need for creators and executives to prioritize inclusivity from the foundation of their technology, ensuring that XR experiences are designed with accessibility in mind. They also highlighted the importance of diversity in hiring practices to build a more representative workforce that can better address the needs of all users. 

Both panel discussions will be available to watch later this week on the AWE website.  

Several XRA member companies exhibited, including Big Rock Creative, Cleanbox, Cognitive3D, ArborXR, ZenVR, Meta, HaptX, Oberon Technologies, and GameDriver.  

XRA applauds Athena Demos and Big Rock Creative for winning the Trailblazer and Auggie Award for Best Indie Creator and HTC VIVE for winning the Auggie Award for Best Headworn Device.  

Before the opening of the AWE conference, XRA hosted its annual All-Member Meeting. It featured opening remarks from XRA CEO Elizabeth Hyman and a keynote presentation from best-selling author Steven Johnson. Steven shared his insights on the future of XR and where the intersection of science, technology, and society will potentially meet.  

XRA’s Policy Committee discussed key aspects of building and supporting User Trust, specifically privacy and safety in XR. They also discussed how those concepts and tools could be presented in an infographic to educate the public. In the Health and Inclusion Committee, members explored the efficacy of XR technology for health applications, discussed what each working group has been working on, and examined the challenges facing the industry. Guest speakers Walter Greenleaf, Ph.D., Neuroscientist, and Medical Technology Developer, joined the health and inclusion session. Brittan Heller, Senior Non-Residential Fellow, and Alex Feerst, Technology Lawyer, Trust & Safety Advisor, shared their expertise with the Policy Committee. 

In conjunction with the All-Member meeting and AWE, the XR Association released a survey entitled “Moving the XR Industry Forward.” The survey aims to provide valuable insights into the XR industry’s current state and its challenges. During her panel on Thursday, Elizabeth Hyman announced the survey’s release and encouraged industry professionals to participate and contribute their perspectives. The XR Association seeks to drive positive change and propel the industry forward by gathering data and feedback from industry stakeholders. 

The XR Association’s active participation at the Augmented World Expo demonstrated its commitment to fostering diversity, inclusion, and accessibility within the XR space. The thought-provoking panel discussions shed light on the importance of these principles and provided practical insights for industry professionals. Furthermore, the release of the survey “Moving the Industry Forward” exemplifies the XR Association’s dedication to understanding the industry’s needs and driving meaningful progress. 

As the XR industry continues to evolve and grow, it is crucial to prioritize diversity, inclusion, and accessibility to ensure that the technology benefits everyone. The XR Association’s contributions at the Augmented World Exposition inspire industry professionals and underline the collective responsibility to create an XR ecosystem that is truly accessible and inclusive for all. 

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