Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:

  • Microsoft’s trends to watch for 2018 include mixed, virtual, and augmented reality.
  • Mixed, virtual, and augmented reality technologies may define the “future of computing,” and businesses may want to look at ways they can use them to remain competitive.

Reality-shifting technologies will define the tech industry in 2018, Alex Kipman, a technical fellow at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

Kipman identified three key trends to watch in 2018: Mixed reality and artificial intelligence (AI), virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), and immersive communication. With interest growing, more businesses may want to experiment with the technologies in both internal and consumer-facing applications to remain competitive.

“Usage is increasing steadily and we are seeing transformative experiences that are redefining how we work, communicate, learn and play,” Kipman wrote.

SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)

Mixed reality, coupled with AI, could define the “future of computing,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is quoted as saying in the post. The technologies are helping people do things that were previously considered impossible, Kipman said.

“The ability to blend the physical and digital worlds in mixed reality enables us to build experiences where people, places and things become independent of their physical location and can interact with their digital counterparts,” Kipman said. And adding AI can expand mixed reality’s abilities.

The second trend, VR and AR, could impact how teams collaborate, Kipman said. The technologies could be used when working in close proximity is necessary but not physically possible. Advances in this sector could mean closer collaboration with satellite offices or remote workers, regardless of where they’re located.

Mixed reality could be used for immersive social communication, Kipman noted in his third trend. While mixed reality technology could improve business communication, it could also have consumer applications that boost connections.

“The killer app will be social communication; experiences that tear down the walls of isolation,” Kipman wrote.

VR and AR technology is expected to grow in both consumer and enterprise applications by 2021, with headset shipments jumping from 10.1 million in 2016 to 99.4 million 2021, according to the IDC. Companies may want to capitalize on the expected tenfold growth by innovating now instead of later.

Microsoft has been showcasing mixed reality’s business applications lately, our sister site ZDNet noted. Some of the newest efforts include the ability to rent HoloLens devices, and a hard hat that embeds the HoloLens.