Extended Reality: What Is It?

Did you know that training with extended reality (XR) technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) can streamline employee roles by up to 70%?  Extended Reality (XR) is changing training as we know it. With more organizations around the world recognizing the benefits of such training, it’s time to consider whether XR training is right for your business.

XR is a general term that includes immersive learning technologies VR, AR, and MR. These technologies are an effective way to extend or simulate the real world with digital materials to modernize your workplace training program.

By incorporating XR into your training, you can immerse your learners in a more interactive, engaging and effective multi-sensory environment over time. Now that you know what XR training is, let’s take a closer look at the key XR technologies of VR, AR, and mixed reality.

Augmented Reality (AR)

In augmented reality, virtual information and objects are superimposed on the real world. This experience magnifies the real world with digital details such as images, text and animations. You can access the experience from your AR glasses, screen, tablet or smartphone. This means that the user is not isolated from the real world and can interact and see what is happening in front of the user. The most famous examples of AR are the game Pokémon GO, which overlays digital creatures in the real world, or the Snapchat filter, which puts digital objects such as hats and glasses on your head.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Unlike Augmented Reality, the virtual reality experience completely immerses the user in a simulated digital environment. Individuals need to wear a VR headset or head-mounted display to get a 360-degree view of the artificial world that tricks the brain into believing they are real. The gaming and entertainment industry adopted this technology early on. Companies in various industries such as healthcare, construction, engineering, and military find VR to be very useful.

Mixed Reality (MR)

In mixed reality, digital and real objects exist side by side and can interact in real time. This is the latest immersive technology, sometimes referred to as hybrid reality. It requires an MR headset and much more computing power than VR or AR. Microsoft’s HoloLens is a great example of how you can place a digital object, etc. in a standing space, rotate it, and manipulate the digital object any way you like. Companies are looking for ways to use mixed reality to solve problems, support initiatives, and improve their businesses.

XR is a new generic term for all immersive technologies. What we already have today: Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), and those that haven’t been created yet. All immersive technologies reinforce the reality we experience by integrating the virtual world with the “real” world or by creating a completely immersive experience. According to a recent survey, more than 60% of respondents believe that XR will become mainstream over the next five years.

Enterprise Extended Reality Applications

XR has many practical applications:

Retail: XR offers customers the opportunity to try a product before making a purchase. Watchmaker Rolex has an AR app that lets you try your watch on your  wrist, and furniture company IKEA provides customers with the ability to place furniture in their homes via their smartphones.

Training: Especially in life-threatening situations, XR will help soldiers, medical professionals, pilots/astronauts, chemists, etc. find solutions to their problems or deal with dangerous situations by providing surreal training tools to help you learn.

Remote Work: Employees can connect to their home office or globally distributed professionals as if they were both in the same room.

Marketing: Opportunities to connect with potential customers and consumers through XR encourage marketers to maximize their potential to benefit their business.

Real Estate: Even if you’re in another location, finding a buyer or renter can be easier if you can determine if an individual wants to “walk” through the room.

Entertainment: As an early adopter, the entertainment industry continues to find new ways to use immersive technology.

XR Challenges

People developing XR technology are encountering some challenges with mainstream adoption. First, XR technology collects and processes large amounts of very detailed and personal data about what you need to protect, what you are seeing, and even your emotions.

In addition, technology implementation costs need to be reduced. Otherwise, many companies will not be able to invest in it. Wearable devices that enable a complete XR experience are important not only to be stylish and comfortable, but also to be always connected, smart and immersive. There are important technical and hardware issues to solve, such as display, power and heat, motion tracking, connectivity, and shared lighting. Virtual objects are indistinguishable from real objects in the real world, especially when the lighting changes. Every day, we are one step closer to resolving these issues. As a result, there will be more mainstream applications for all XR technologies in the coming years.

The future of the XR

As XR technology advances, other technologies are driving users into a new era:

Artificial Intelligence. From virtual assistants helping VR designers to intelligent AR overlays that guides individuals through do-it-yourself projects, AI plays a key role in the XR space.

Imagine, for example, wearing a headset and using natural language and gestures to tell your content what to do. With hands-free, voice-controlled virtual agents, you don’t have to be an expert to create stunning designs, complete highly complex projects, and take advantage of powerful application capabilities. Entering the next evolution of XR, the possibilities are virtually limitless.