Immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) are gaining traction in India, with growing numbers of startups working on hardware and software. The Xperential Technology Innovation Center (XTIC) located at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras campus, is one such startup that is at the forefront of the XR educational and evangelist movement in the country. XTIC has been focused on developing open-source virtual and augmented reality hardware such as headsets, touch sensing technology, and emote biosensors, as well as software, standardisation, and testing protocols in the extended reality (XR) technology to be future-ready.
XTIC is focused on interdisciplinary research that combines biomechanics, mechatronics, robotics, neurophysiology, computer graphics, etc., to support the XR ecosystem in the country. Dr M Manivannan of the Department of Applied Mechanics, who heads XITC, is proposing to develop a nationwide XR corridor to boost the industry. The focus is on fundamental and pioneering research in XR technologies.
The professor argues that India should have indigenous capabilities and innovation in the XR space similar to that of developing Bharath OS, Shakthi Processor. XTIC aims to provide training to college students, entrepreneurs, and industry stakeholders in both hardware and software tools. It plans to set up XITC centres in academic institutions across the country, starting in Tamil Nadu. The institute plans to establish advanced VR/AR-based training centres for private players and public sector undertakings like SAIL.
XTIC is working with NITI Aayog for recommending policies for the development of the technology, which include incentives for supporting domestic manufacturing, R&D, putting guardrails in place to address the potential threats in the virtual space, etc.
The VR-based applications are used in product design, industrial training, gaming and entertainment, among other areas. Its scope is expected to widen to education and others in the forthcoming years as these mass-produced headsets are sold in the market. XITC has identified ed-tech, med-tech, space-tech, and defence-tech as key areas of growth. With the growth of XR technologies in India and the emergence of startups like XTIC, the country is poised to become a major player in the immersive tech landscape.