Extended reality (XR) is a catch-all word for immersive technology that lets people have an experience of life that transcends their current world. This technology, which encompasses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality, has probably already been utilised by you in some way (MR).
XR technology is already being implemented across several industries, including entertainment, education, construction, and healthcare. Furthermore, the possibilities for XR technology’s potential real-world applications are endless.
Continue reading to find out more about how XR technology is now being used, what difficulties it is currently facing, and what the future holds for this fascinating new technology.
Extended Reality: What Is It?
By utilising technical advancements, extended reality (XR) creates an environment that is separate from the real world and enables for 3D computer-generated experiences.
The idea of XR was developed more than 150 years ago, despite the fact that it appears to be a recent technology.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, British scientist Charles Wheatstone discovered in 1838 that “your brain would assemble them into a three-dimensional view if you drew two pictures of something—say, a cube or a tree—from two slightly different perspectives, and then viewed each one through a different eye.” Wheatstone thus produced the first stereoscope, which gave off a sensation of depth and immersion that was unheard of at the time.
The stereoscope’s popularity rose across Europe with the invention of the photograph about the same time and a more advanced one made by scientist David Brewster a decade later. These innovations from the 19th century prepared the basis for the ultimate development of the current extended reality technologies.
More examples of virtual and augmented reality technologies started to appear around the middle of the 20th century. Morton Heilig created the first virtual reality device back in 1956. This gadget provided consumers with a totally immersive watching experience by combining 3D colour TV with sounds, fragrances, and a vibrating chair. Four years later, the creator also secured a patent for the first head-mounted display.
Military VR headsets with motion tracking were created in the 1960s, and by the 1970s, MIT had created the Aspen Movie Map, allowing viewers to take a computer-generated tour of Aspen’s streets.
The 1980s saw the development of more XR wearables such as goggles and gloves, and 1987 saw the introduction of the phrase “virtual reality.” Early in the 1990s, the first VR arcade machines were installed, and later that decade, more cheap headgear became available.
Extended reality technologies have accelerated significantly since 2010. In 2010, the Oculus Rift VR headset prototype was created, offering users a 90-degree field of vision of a virtual environment. In 2014, tech giants Sony, Samsung, and Google all unveiled their own VR gadgets. When Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens headgear in 2016, additional interactive augmented reality experiences became possible. Since then, XR technologies have developed steadily in terms of novelty and usability.
A variant of XR technology known as augmented reality (AR) superimposes virtual data and objects over the actual world. In other words, by incorporating visuals, text, or movement into the existing environment, augmented reality (AR) enables real-world improvements.
Today’s examples of AR technology include Pokemon Go!, IKEA’s augmented reality home design experience, and Snapchat’s interactive filters. Each of these examples is covered in more detail below.
Virtual reality, as opposed to augmented reality, entails completely submerging individuals in a virtual 3D environment. In order to enjoy a 360-degree virtual reality experience, viewers must wear a headset. Through this fascinating area of XR technology, users can view and interact with things and locations outside of the physical world.
While VR technology was quickly adopted by the gaming and entertainment sectors, it has recently acquired traction in other sectors like healthcare, construction, and education. Currently, this technology is used by surgeons to pinpoint the precise location of malignancies as well as by gamers utilising the Meta Quest VR headset to explore virtual worlds.
Mixed reality (MR) tech fills the gap between AR and VR capabilities. Similar to AR experiences, MR enables physical and digital items to coexist. However, this hybrid environment goes a step further by allowing real-time interaction between digital and physical items. Additionally, much like VR, MR makes use of wearables to seamlessly incorporate stunning holographic images of people and objects into actual environments.
Microsoft’s HoloLens device, which features a see-through display that enables the user to view digital items as though they were in a real-world environment, is one example of mixed reality technology in use today.
Issues with Using XR Technology
Enormous challenges come together with great possibilities. Extended reality (XR) technology is expected to increase exponentially in the future, but there are still several challenges to be solved before it becomes widely used. Cost, comfort, connectivity, security, and privacy are a few of these issues.
The expensive expense of integrating extended reality, particularly when it comes to the newest and most cutting-edge instruments, is one of the biggest obstacles. A lot of businesses are currently unable to fully utilise XR technology because of the pricey hardware requirements. In order to make these prices more bearable for consumers and small enterprises, additional innovations are required.
Another factor that hinders the widespread acceptance of extended reality technology, particularly among virtual reality experiences, is comfort. Some users may find the weight and discomfort of current VR equipment off-putting or bothersome. The level of immersion can also be constrained by a bulky garment. XR technologies must be more aesthetically pleasing and cosy in order to appeal to more consumers.
A patchy connection is one of the few things that can ruin the joy of an immersive experience. Another difficulty that the extended reality industry is facing is technical connectivity issues.
Users of XR need dependable access to the fastest connections in order to have seamless experiences with little lag and latency. A potential answer to this problem is 5G.
Privacy and security
The safe transfer of data and information between platforms is essential for the success of XR technology. Prioritising security and privacy issues while addressing vulnerabilities will be necessary to protect user information.