What is XR?

By now, you will have heard about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) but you might never have heard of the term eXtended reality (XR) before.

It’s easy to confuse all of these terms with one another because there is an overlap between them. XR encompasses VR, AR, and mixed reality (MR) and is used in the metaverse. It’s sometimes referred to as cross reality because it is a catchall term for all of these different realities.

The History of XR

Believe it or not, the term XR was first coined back in the 1960s by a man called Charles Wyckoff. He used the term to describe his silver-halide XR film that could be used to photograph bright light events.

Since then, XR has adapted into what we know it as today. Now, it’s very much associated with the gaming world and is predominantly used to enhance the gaming experience by convincing VR, AR, and MR.

What is XR and How Does it Work?

XR is lesser-known at this moment in time but it will certainly gain more attention as we progress into Web 3.0, the third generation of the internet. XR uses a standard PC interface and converts it into a completely new online reality. It takes the user into a digital world like nothing else ever has before.

XR does this by using concepts from VR, AR, and MR. If using VR concepts, eXtended reality will immerse the player in an extended online reality. If using AR, it will augment the player’s reality. It may also use a combination of both of these things using MR.

XR Devices and Technologies

Any device that uses VR, AR, or MR can be defined as an XR device. Most of you have probably used a device or free mobile game that uses XR at some point in the past without even realizing it.

For example, Google Maps, Pokémon Go, and Half-Life: Alyx are some popular examples of technology that uses XR. Live sports games also use XR to enhance the screen and help viewers visualize what is happening in the game.

Some XR applications use 3D game engines, such as Unity3D and Unreal Engine. This makes it easy to create a VR device, even for those with no prior knowledge of VR, AR, or MR. It’s important to look at Unity vs Unreal and decide which is best for a specific application as there are key differences between the two.

XR can also be used in business. For example, some retailers are using XR to help their customers shop through their online products.

Many digital clothing stores now have the option for customers to superimpose an outfit onto an online version of themselves. Furniture stores have the option for customers to check to see whether a piece of furniture fits into a room or looks good in their home before they make a purchase.

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