Extended reality, otherwise known as xR, is becoming more important to society, and is predicted to be the leading trend in entertainment and communication in the coming decade. We are already seeing many applications of this type in augmented and virtual reality technology. Video games, computer software, television, etc. are just a few of the media that are leveraging the power of extended reality. However, what does XR mean? It’s actually an two-letter abbreviation for extended reality, which refers to the merging of technology into reality.
Extended reality is a generic term referring to virtual and/or real-and-computer interactions and environments generated by computer systems and electronics, where the ‘R’ stands for the real. E.g., in an Internet environment, you are able to meet other people with whom you are already acquainted, if you only use a web browser. You might also encounter augmented reality in which objects and details that were real before are replicated using computer-generated techniques (for example, a real car might show up as a driverless car in your sight, enabling you to interact with it), or the reverse (when you look at an object, it might not physically appear as you think it would, but the computer systems interpreting the visual signals of your eyes determine its actual physical size and shape).
Extended reality combines computer science, information theory, psychology, entertainment, and art. It is an expanding field. Some experts believe that one of its primary reasons for popularity is the fact that computers and other electronic devices are becoming more inclusive in terms of how they work, and in which ways they are used. Also, as mentioned above, the computer is becoming a much more integrated part of our lives, encompassing a large variety of devices, many of which aren’t even realize how they function together.
There is another reason, however, that has a more sinister undertone. One of the most popular online social networking services, MySpace, uses technology to track the IP addresses of all the computer users who log onto the site. That means that anyone who becomes a MySpace user can be targeted for advertising. This is one of the applications of augmented reality, as well.
By placing an image in front of a computer screen, marketers can send mixed messages. One message could be that you like a picture of a yacht on the beach, and another message might be that you are looking for someone who has a yacht. The second message would get you to click on the link in the ad, and take you to a completely different site. Granted, there are some problems with this sort of marketing, such as the fact that it can be seen by anyone who comes across the page, but it is still invasive.
Extended reality has to do with the use of computer graphics. Images are placed into the computer to give a feeling of depth or reality, so that the user will react accordingly. These images, when real, do not have anything to do with the user, other than giving the illusion that they are in an alternate universe. This is what makes augmented reality so exciting: it lets users interact in a way that we have never before imagined, while using nothing more than a computer.
How does all of this work? Well, consider that you are at work. While you are sitting in your cubicle, you are receiving information from the company you work for. You have probably signed up for various email lists, and probably downloaded a couple of apps from the internet, too.
When you get home, all these information and apps are merged into your computer, which has a display screen that looks like the display of an Apple store. It shows you all of the items that you currently have that are associated with your employer. However, as you scroll down through your list of items, you can see additional items that you have not yet purchased, which is what augmented reality is trying to do. By using a cell phone or your lap top computer as a display, the information on the screen changes to match the data that is stored in your computer.