BUSINESS leaders need to adjust their mindset to fully leverage immersive technologies, a Teesside tech boss has said.

Middlesbrough-based Dominic Lusardi, co-founder of digital services firm Animmersion UK Ltd, hopes the pause across industries, due to Covid-19, has allowed leaders time to consider the benefits of immersive technology and evaluate their company's digital offering.

"The immersive technology space like in the North-East is developing, as is the same with industry as a whole, and is in its infancy," Mr Lusardi said. "But we have some strong players in this market that are helping define the adoption of immersive tech at a global scale.

"Given people have had more personal time, I feel that generally we are beginning to understand the benefits of immersive technology, certainly from an education perspective and I expect adoption post pandemic to increase exponentially, you only have to look at how Google AR [augmented reality] animals has been so widely used during lockdown.

"Google animals isn't going to completely change the game but what we have had is parents and children having conversations through AR. The initial steps are key to opening peoples minds to the possibilities."

Google AR is a well-hidden tool accessed through search, on AR-enabled devices, which projects animals into the room.

The tech director-turned-ambassador, who advocates for the growing digital cluster in the North-East, says although the public can see use in immersive technologies, often through entertainment, corporate decision makers are more reluctant to the change.

He added: "We've also seen the industry itself use VR [virtual reality] for networking and events, and this is empowering companies to understand the benefits but also the economics of immersive tech.

"The C-suite level needs to be open to opportunities instead of seeing immersive as a project that they do once or as a cost.

"Because of coronavirus, people are looking at communication and wondering how they can bring together a group of people, immersive tech does this. The pandemic has given people the time to look at virtual reality when otherwise they would be keeping things ticking over.

"Opportunity is immense, immersive technology can be used to steam charge all parts of the economy from education, healthcare, manufacturing, engineering, apprenticeships, communication, networking and events but needs to be tempered with change in mindset as to benefits of thinking digitally."

Drawing on how some retail stores allow customers to return items bought online in-store and vice versa, which demonstrates 'joined up' approach to digital and physical, Mr Lusardi stresses that digital should be as crucial to a business as HR and finance instead of being novel, or an alternative to in-store experiences. They should be complimentary synergy between offerings.

He finalised: "Many C-suites in corporates don't have a deep understanding of immersive technology. You go to an engineering firm and most people at the top have been engineers but other industries aren't like that. You don't know what you don't know, and people don't know how they can use immersive technology."

While a certain amount of training in industries like health care and engineering can be done using AR or VR, Mr Lusardi believes this should be leveraged further and immersive experience should be treat with greater weight.