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28 SMT007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2023 Secondly, we are entering a period of subdued growth in the economy, which began in 2022 and will continue this year and push into 2024. At the start of 2022, our forecasts called for North American GDP growth of 3.7% in 2022 and 2.6% growth in 2023. The economy grew just 2% in 2023 and we now expect the economy to expand just 0.5% in the year ahead. Part of this decline was exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but there are other headwinds as well. Finally, we are past peak inflation, but inflation will remain elevated in the year ahead. Labor markets will remain tight and wage rates elevated. The labor force participation rate flattened out over 2022 at a level that is about 1 percentage point lower than pre-pandemic levels, primarily reflecting an estimated 2.5 million in excess retirements, as well as some impact from long COVID. Immigration has also been low in recent years. All this combines to keep pressure on wages and keep inflation higher for longer. This means that the Federal Reserve will also keep interest rates higher for longer as it seeks to slow inflation. In the months since the release of our 2023 forecast at the EMS Summit, we have received additional data that supports our view. Inflation remains stubbornly elevated and that will push interest rates higher and keep them there longer than many might have expected. At the start of the year, the futures markets were even suggesting the Fed might cut rates in the back half of the year. It is also important for leaders to recognize that growth is slowing, and the decline will not be even and orderly. The recent and sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank is just one example of the type of shocks that happen during an economic recession and companies should be vigilant against contagion that spreads from parts of the economy adjacent to our own industry. It is not events within our sector that catch companies off guard, it is the shocks outside our domain that pose some of the greatest risks. SMT007 For more details about Shawn's analysis of the tech industry, read a review of his keynote address here, and watch his Real Time with… interview here. Researchers from Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and Meta Reality Labs have found a hands-free way to deliver believable tactile experiences in virtual environments. Users in virtual reality (VR) have typically needed hand-held or hand-worn devices like haptic controllers or gloves to experience tactile sensations of touch. The new "multisensory pseudo-haptic" technology, uses a combination of visual feedback from a VR headset and tactile sensations from a mechanical bracelet that squeezes and vibrates the wrist. "Wearable technology designers want to deliver virtual experiences that are more realistic, and for haptics, they've largely tried to do that by recreating the forces we feel at our fingertips when we manipulate objects," said study co-author Marcia O'Malley, Rice's Thomas Michael Panos Family Professor in Mechanical Engineering. "That's why today's wearable haptic technologies are often bulky and encumber the hands." O'Malley said that's a problem going forward because comfort will become increasingly important as people spend more time in virtual environments. Haptic refers to the sense of touch. Pseudo-haptics are haptic illusions, simulated experiences that are created by exploiting how the brain receives, processes and responds to tactile and kinesthetic input. (Source: Northwestern University) Hands-free Tech Adds Realistic Sense of Touch in Extended Reality

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