What is Extended Reality (XR)? Everything You Need to Know
Table of Contents
As you are aware, now the latest technology can become outdated in a considerably minimum amount of time. And to stay competitive with the trend, we should adapt to changes quickly and stay updated time by time.
Now, imagine a world where it is impossible to identify what’s real and what’s virtual. This is not just about simply sitting at a desk with a screen or keeping a smartphone in your pocket anymore.
We’re already diving into a place where real life and the digital world mix together. In the coming years, we will be in real-world technology while mixing the physical and digital worlds.
Extended Reality (XR) is a technology that is redefining how we experience things in this exciting new world. While you might have already heard of augmented and virtual reality, XR is a bit of a hidden gem. Still, more and more people are getting into augmented and virtual reality, and according to allied market research, the global AR and VR market size is projected to reach $856.2 billion by 2031.
This is not it, the Extended Reality (XR) is becoming popular too and making a big impact in different industrial enterprises. But before we go deeper into it all, let’s first understand what is Extended Reality (XR).
What is Extended Reality
Extended means something that is enhanced or intensified. Extended reality is a new sensation of technology which is having its roof on the pillars of VR, AR, and MR. XR refers to all real and virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions generated by computer technology and wearables. Discombobulated with these technical words? Let’s make it simple. XR is a mixture of AR, VR, and MR in the approx. proportion of say 36%, 38%, and 26% respectively.
However, don’t get confused by the fusion of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality as they all are elements of XR technology. Let us go through it one by one.
Virtual Reality is that type of artificial reality that has no connection with the real world (just like the disclaimers of the films!). It’s a totally imaginary world created by computer simulations. It makes us dive into a totally different digital world. We all are aware of the VR box, aren’t we? That is a simple example of virtual reality technology. Tech giants like Google have created some VR apps like Google Cardboard, Google art & culture. VR basically gives us the best gaming experience. Recent talk of the town, the famous PUBG game is one of them.
Augmented Reality, on the other hand, is not entirely different from the real world. It is just like the icing on the king to Virtual reality. How? Let’s understand it with an example. Suppose you found something somewhere about which you are not having knowledge. But if you have a smartphone having a camera app, that takes its photograph and acknowledges you about that thing with the help of graphics of analytical data, then this is called augmented reality. In other words, AR is a digital layer of the real world with the help of mediums like the camera of the phone or headphones. ‘Just a line’ is an augmented reality app from Google. Snapchat is also an AR app used for making up different layers on faces. Other examples of AR apps are Ingress, Ghost Snap, holo, Asian Paints color selection app, etc.
Another term namely augmented virtuality is also a part of this family. It is a real-time representation of the current state of real-world elements in media and information technology environments. So, if the interaction happens in the real world, it’s called Augmented reality and if it happens in the virtual world, it’s called Augmented virtuality.
Now, what is Mixed Reality then? ‘Mixed’, the name itself is self-explanatory. MR is the combination of both VR and AR. It’s just like hybrid seeds in agriculture, which are more productive. It combines the best elements of VR and AR. Mixed reality mixes the real and virtual world in a systematic manner. It fastens the virtual objects in the real world and allows us to interact with virtual objects. For more zooming in, let’s go in a flashback. In childhood, while playing video games, we played a game called duck-hunt. It was the rawest example of mixed reality.
Having this much basic information, we will now understand what Extended Reality (XR) means.
Extended reality turns data into a memorable experience. Extended reality gathers numerous data of bundles of objects at a time and at a place. It converts them into a holographic image. With the help of these holograms, an imaginary world is created which can actually be interlinked with real objects/people.
Let’s take an extended reality example: Suppose you are at your office having a very busy schedule. But you want to take a look at your other office located at some 3000 km distance during a tea break. And at the time of lunch, you want to wander on the surface of the moon. You will say that stop such foolishness; this can’t be a reality. But the extended reality is that type of medium that will convert this imagination into a reality. XR simply creates the world within a world. It is a new element expanding the realm of this Tech-era.
After all these praises of XR, a general question comes to our mind what’s the difference between AR, VR, and XR? & If XR is the same as VR? So, in a summarised way, VR is just an imaginary environment that may be entertaining but has nothing to do with the real world. AR can be addressed as an overlay to the things of the real environment. Whereas MR creates virtual objects which can interact with the real environment. But XR is a bonanza combo of VR, AR, and MR which is the ability to explore the imaginary world as if you’re actually there & convincingly share parts of those imaginary worlds in real life. These technologies are an effective way to transform frontline workers into knowledge workers. Transform
However, every technological advancement has its own pros and cons. XR is also having both sides of the coin mentioned below.
Advantages of Extended Reality
XR enables human beings to feel and interact with a radically different world without leaving their place. It saves time, money, and resources at the same time. It also helps reduce human impact on the environment by reducing truck rolls.
Get Real Time Information Quickly
XR helps to have real-time information and a realistic view of the situation. Which ultimately becomes a helping hand in all three sectors of the economy.
Effective Operational Management
Some crucial training such as loco-pilot training, operational management of nuclear reactors, etc can be done much more effectively with numerous trials and errors without harming the actual resources. Also, Augmented Reality (AR) technology can help in quality management throughout the production lifecycle and bridge the skill gap between new hires and experienced manufacturing workers.
Improve Learning Experience
The hardship named ‘Difficulties reaching in remote areas will obsolete after an evolution of XR. Visualization improves the learning experience, which will help in the generation skilled human capital.
Disadvantages of Extended Reality
XR is ultimately based on the computer network, and it is having a threat of hacking or cyber-attack. This can have a major damage, as XR-related solutions possess several private information.
Makes Socially Disengaged
Technological innovations always degrade the quality of the social life of human beings. Mobiles, laptops and now XR will make humans socially even more disengaged.
Causes Physical Problems
Using XR devices more than a particular time may affect the eyes adversely. It may also cause headaches and sometimes lead to migraines.
XR contains the use of many tech devices which ultimately increases the implementing cost. Also due to this constraint, an economically weaker mass of the society may not get the benefits of extended reality.
No matter how realistic XR training may be, it doesn’t include the unpredictability of real-world consequences.
XR is pre-programmed, it needs an expert’s help to make some changes according to the situation. So, the flexibility of XR for a common man is not possible.
Despite having the cons mentioned above, XR has great potential for the industry. According to Accenture’s survey, 36% of the CEOs believe it to be a key factor in adopting XR. XR can be implemented in industries serving all basic needs such as shelter, health, and entertainment. XR is expected to be a $ 110 BN industry by 2025.
Applications of Extended Reality
XR technologies have a wide range of applications across different industrial sectors and fields. Here are some notable applications of extended reality:
The XR technology is being used to improve the design and production operations. For example, 3D models of products and prototypes may be created using VR, allowing frontline workers to examine and improve them before they are created. On the assembly line, AR can be utilized to offer workers with work instructions and real-time feedback.
XR will be a blessing for the Training and skill development industry and in this augmented reality training plays a pivotal role in training frontline workers. It will enable the workers to be trained in a complete field-like environment without actually going into the field. The better visualization will make better understanding, which will ultimately lead to efficient human capital. Such as the mining industry, manufacturing industry, etc. Training with extended reality technologies including augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality can increase workers’ productivity by 70%. Now let’s take an extended reality example, Airlines giant like Boeing use XR for the training of pilots and they have found that it takes 35% of the lesser time to train a pilot with XR. Hence, XR also reduces the training duration decreasing ‘first-time errors’ to 90%.
#3 Entertainment Industry
XR will change the definition of entertainment. The video game industry will benefit most by applying XR. According to the report of Statista, this industry will have 34% of the future share of XR applications. XR will not only give a live experience of gaming but also of other entertainment events such as concerts, exhibitions, cricket, and football matches. For example, the Denver Museum of nature and science already uses this technology for a better visitor experience.
#4 Real Estate
Real estate and interior designing industries will be stress-free from creating the actual structure or even a sample house. By using XR, the architecture can show the actual building planning to the customer with real experience. So, this will be beneficial to both of them. Also, difficulties in town planning will be eliminated with the aid of XR.
#5 Healthcare Sector
The health sector is facing some issues regarding 3D imaging of internal micro parts of the human body structure like veins, blood vessels, and cells. XR will help this industry to create more accurate graphics of these internal body parts, and this will enhance the surgical accuracy. Also, AR in the healthcare industry allows medical professionals to practice procedures and techniques in a safe, controlled environment by providing a hands-on, immersive experience.
#6 Military Industry
XR has tremendous scope in the military industry. Starting from an artillery gun to the fighter planes, training can be given to the soldiers without even building a prototype of it. This will save the cost of manufacturing and on the other hand, rework due to trial and error will also be eliminated. Always remember that frontline training programs with effective design and practices can boost employee engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction.
#7 e-commerce & Retail
Retailer industries like Furniture, and e-commerce will be able to make their sales more customer friendly with XR. For instance, which furniture will suit best in your room will be shown virtually with real-time experience. Companies like Lenskart are having an app for the actual suitability of the specs frame.
XR business statistics were published by a firm called Statista. It has shown that XR business in 2017 was around $14.1 billion, but from 2018 to 2022 they have claimed the raise up to $209.2 billion, which shows the massive opportunities in XR business. By this, we can say that the future of XR technologies seems very promising. Below are a few trends that we can expect to see in the future of XR:
The emergence of lightweight and affordable headsets: One of the most significant barriers to XR adoption has been the high cost of headsets. However, in 2023, various new headsets that are more affordable and lightweight than prior ones will be available. This is likely to increase XR use in a broader variety of applications.
The increasing popularity of XR in enterprise applications: Businesses are rapidly adopting XR for a number of applications, including training, collaboration, and customer support. This pattern is likely to continue in 2023.
More immersive and realistic experiences: XR technologies are also improving, enabling more immersive and realistic experiences. VR headsets, for example, are getting more comfortable, with higher-quality screens.
Cautions in Business with XR
In business with XR, having a robust data security structure is a must. Because without it, more profit with the use of XR is a myth, as cyber-attacks and hacking may adversely affect your business.
Another thing is having the right and authentic service provider. Otherwise, unplanned downtime may lead to an interrupted business cycle.
The Essence of Extended Reality
In the end, concluding the XR, we can say that if properly used, XR may completely alter the experience of business as well as day-to-day life. XR is a blessing in disguise for the physically challenged people of the world. XR is the blending of phenomenal elements of all VR, AR, and MR, which gives a new vision to the Technocrats of the world. It mixes the virtual world with a real one, promising the zenith of futuristic technology.
The future of extended reality is filled with endless opportunities for innovation, transformation, and immersive experiences that have the potential to revolutionize industries and enrich our lives in ways we are only beginning to imagine. At the end of the day, the constant gradation of technology is a need of an hour to strengthen the world economy.
Extended Reality (XR) is a term encompassing technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) that blend elements from our physical world with digital elements to create a realistic landscape of immersive discovery.
The key factor in the accelerated use of Extended Reality applications in business is allowing frontline workers to engage with both physical and digital world in real-time. XR technologies, such as , augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), can help industrial enterprises to streamline operations, improve training, and enhance collaboration, all of which contribute to cost savings and operational efficiency.
A potential benefit of applying extended reality solutions is the ability to create immersive and interactive experiences.
With 10+ years' experience of Hiren Kanani has helped Plutomen ensure smooth communication between the company and the client for swift project delivery with fewer iterations. He is CTO & founder at Plutomen.
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