What is Extended Reality?
17th May 2023
Extended reality (XR) refers to the extension of physical reality with the immersive technologies - augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR). Augmented reality augments a user's perception of reality by combining it with digital elements. Virtual reality is a simulated 3D environment that a user is immersed in by wearing a VR headset. Mixed reality incorporates aspects of both AR and VR, additionally allowing virtual objects to interact with the physical environment.
Augmented reality combines a user's perception of the real world with a virtual world of computer-generated elements such as images, text and sound. It provides a way to superimpose digital information onto the world. For example, drivers can see navigational information and hazard warnings in front of them, and service engineers can get hands-free instructions and remote guidance.
Virtual reality immerses a user wearing a VR headset in a 3D-simulated world. The headset tracks head movements and displays real-time stereoscopic images that give a user the sensation they are present in a virtual world. A user can interact with objects in the virtual world using motion controllers. VR has many applications including entertainment, real estate, training and retail. In a virtual world, a person can drive a racing car, look around an apartment for sale or be in a video game.
Mixed reality is an extended version of augmented reality that combines aspects of AR and VR. Mixed reality can detect the 3D surfaces of a physical environment which allows virtual objects to interact with the physical world. On smartphones, detected planes such as the floor or the top of a table can be used to place and move objects around using touch gestures. Microsoft HoloLens goes a step further and maps the physical environment to a virtual 3D model, making it possible for holographic objects to essentially interact with physical ones. Using mixed reality users can interact with the virtual objects using input devices, hand gestures, and voice commands. HoloLens 2 users can even grasp holographic objects, and virtually manipulate and place them on physical objects.
Use cases of Extended Reality
Extended reality is enabling companies to improve work processes, cut costs and train employees in better ways. It's changing the way people shop, providing ways to better visualize and try out products before buying. VR gaming is becoming more popular, immersing a gamer in amazingly realistic and interactive worlds. The applications of XR are almost endless. The increasing use and demand for XR are expected to drive the market value from 40 billion dollars to 112 billion dollars by 2028.
Toyota has found many benefits of using MR in car manufacturing and use HoloLens 2 for training, quality assurance, and remote assistance. L'Oréal use Dynamics 365 and HoloLens 2 for remote assistance to resolve equipment failures. As a result, they have reduced downtime by 50% and cut operational costs.
DHL Supply Chain is using an AR solution in warehouses around the world to improve logistic processes. Workers with AR smart glasses receive picking instructions and item locations, allowing them to work more easily and efficiently.
Virtual walk-throughs allow a user to virtually look around an apartment or building, a VR headset makes the experience more immersive but it's not required. A walk-through can be relatively easy to create, photos of each room are taken with a 360 digital camera and software links them together. Clients can view properties in their own time and quickly eliminate unsuitable ones without visiting them in person. Agents can cut travel costs by the reduced number of viewing appointments.
AR makes it possible for consumers to try out and try on products in the home or in-store which increases buyer confidence and reduces returns. The Ikea Place app can be used by customers with smartphones to see how furniture looks and fits in the home before buying. Consumers can try makeup, hair colors, and nail products before purchasing with L'Oreal Modiface technology.
VR games are amazingly realistic, interactive virtual worlds that gamers can be completely immersed in. The new PlayStation 5 with the PSVR2 headset represents the pinnacle of VR technology with ultra-realistic 4K visuals, 3D audio, and haptic feedback of the controllers.
Futuristic extended reality
Science fiction inspires people to create the technology of the future and extended reality has been featured in movies such as Tron, Star Trek, and Star Wars. Augmented reality contact lenses may seem like something from a science fiction movie but Mojo Vision already has a working prototype. The technology has the potential to eventually replace current AR glasses and headsets. Imagine being in a movie rather than just watching it, this is already becoming reality with VR movies being released. These technologies transcend TV and computer screens, perhaps making them redundant in the not-so-distant future.
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