Extended reality, also known as augmented reality, is the next generation of human mobility; combining current human mobility technologies with advanced technologies such as virtual reality, digital signage and augmented reality head mounted display systems. It is not a concept; it is already happening. Here is how it works: You are sitting in a restaurant enjoying your meal when out of the corner of your eye you see an advertisement on the wall – your favorite restaurant! Or you are sitting in your car enjoying the pleasant weather outside when out of the side of your eye you spot two men talking in a car commercial, about their latest adventure! In each case, you are experiencing the world around you with your mind, body and soul through the participation of your mind, body and soul – you are “extending the reality envelope” beyond the physical limits of the five senses.
How does this work? Human imagination, combined with modern day technologies, has made the impossible possible. Now we can use our imaginations to build worlds, structures and environments that are exact replicas of the real world, whether that is driving a race car, playing a virtual soccer game or navigating through the interior of a real life space. This is the exciting new frontier of personal mobility.
And now, some of the most exciting augmented reality applications are taking shape right here in the US. Companies like Mercedes-Benz and Google are merging the mapping technology of the Internet with mobile-based mapping software to deliver turn-by-turn GPS navigation. Mercedes is integrating its mapping application with its own vehicle navigation system to make getting to where you want to go easier than ever before. Google’s newest project, called “Google Wave”, will let you surf the web from your smart phone! Soon, every smart phone will be able to surf the web, Google Wave includes an integrated browser, so the web will never be hidden from you again.
It’s not just mapping that is coming together; real-time data and software will be coming together to help drivers avoid traffic congestion and make travel easier on the road. One day soon, self-driving cars will be the standard on our roads. When that day comes, you won’t have to waste time sitting in your car; you’ll be able to get to your destination quickly. And, it won’t matter whether you’re traveling in rush hour or in the rain because the software will anticipate your needs and guide you through the traffic. This will save you precious time that you could otherwise be spending on other things.
Another area that the future looks bright for is the field of medicine. We may soon see the first holographic medical solutions being developed to provide real-time information on the condition of a patient to doctors on the go. In addition, physicians will no longer have to wait for reports from remote labs to determine the state of their patient; the hologram will allow them to quickly evaluate the condition of their patient in real time using a computer.
Extended Reality XR will also impact our homes in many ways as well. For instance, we may see a shift in the way we do cleaning, dusting, etc. As we become more aware of the holographic nature of our world, the chores we were doing will become more like games rather than chores. One example of this is the fact that most house cleaners today are cleaning with a vacuum cleaner that records the amount of dust removed. The software will take that information and create a video game out of it that you play in your home.
Many businesses are already benefiting from the use of Holographic Technologies. Think about the automotive business for a second. If you were able to see the repair shop in the middle of a busy auto dealer parking lot, would you be more likely to buy a new automobile? Probably not, but that is exactly what is possible with holographic displays.
Another area that the future may very well promise to traverse is the field of tourism. Will travelers be preoccupied with a hologram of the location they are visiting or will they be more focused on the task at hand? It is quite possible that holographic images will replace the need for the tourist to actually step into a location while they are traveling. This certainly opens up all sorts of travel opportunities for the future. Travel may no longer be a solitary activity but instead be combined with other human endeavors such as group excursions, socializing, or gaming. As long as the software is able to produce a quality experience, the ability to travel without leaving your home is here to stay.