29 August, 2022
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Brave new (digital) worlds: XR, AR, MR and VR

29 August, 2022

Discover the differences between XR, AR, MR and VR, and how they’re revolutionizing the way we play, socialize, and learn. 

XR (extended reality) describes the reality-enhancing technology consisting of AR (augmented reality), MR (mixed reality), and VR (virtual reality). It’s a catch-all, umbrella term that covers all of the aforementioned immersive experiences. 

To understand XR and the three realities that it encompasses, let’s first define virtual reality and discover its history — from concept to commercial use. 

Virtual reality (VR)

The concept of VR was first established in 1935, when Stanley G. Weinbaum published his science fiction novel Pygmalion’s Spectacles. Weinbaum’s novel provided a model for VR, but the first functional VR device wouldn’t arrive for another twenty-seven years, when American cinematographer Morton Heilig developed the Sensorama in 1962. 

Heilig’s machine was designed to give viewers an immersive interactive experience. The multi-sensory device incorporated sound, scent and sight in a theatre cabinet in which users placed their heads and hands while sitting in a vibrating chair. The Sensorama was described as a “Revolutionary Motion Picture System that takes you into another world”. 

Fast-forward 80 years and the same words are being used to describe the latest VR technology. Among the most popular products in VR are the PSVR, the Oculus Quest, and the HTC VIVE. These wearable VR headsets offer digital experiences in 3D simulated environments that imitate the real world and provide completely new universes to explore. 

VR found commercial success in elevating gaming experiences, but the first attempts to introduce VR to households were marred by cost. Though the technology was groundbreaking, the hardware proved expensive.

Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, launched in 1995, retailed at $180 (that’s approximately $350 in today’s money). Today, VR technologies are becoming far more accessible thanks to increased adoption and availability. While still predominantly used for gaming, various sectors, from manufacturing to fashion, are experimenting with VR and exploring its capabilities for use in their own industries.

Augmented reality (AR)

Unlike VR, which creates a wholly digital environment, AR is a combination of real and virtual worlds. It incorporates the user’s surroundings, overlapping digital elements into the natural environment (think Pokemon Go). AR technology is currently most prevalent in fashion, retail, and education.

MR (mixed reality)

Here’s where things get a little confusing. As we’ve seen, you could easily define AR as a ‘mixed reality’ (MR), integrating digital and natural realities together. 

However, that title belongs to the third and final reality comprising XR — MR. While AR provides a digital overlay for the real world, in MR, both the digital and what’s real can interact. Think of MR as a combination of AR and VR, rather than as a simple mix of virtual and real-world elements. 

Now you know what’s meant by AR, MR, and VR, you’re probably wondering what they actually do. 

Tomorrow’s tech today 

Beyond wearable headsets and gaming experiences, XR is currently being used as a solution to enhance productivity, engagement, and learning experiences. 

Here are several exciting use cases for XR.

Educating future generations

The same technology that’s providing businesses with the ability to communicate ‘face-to-face’ in a 3D virtual world, offers students access to otherwise distant places, concepts, times, and cultures.

In education, XR is being used as a vehicle for conceptualizing and understanding. AR learning tools are helping students understand complex science concepts and explore the internal organs of frogs, without harming any animals. Berlin during the Blitz, in 1943, was reproduced in 360º by Immersive VR Education by the BBC for users to experience interactive history. 

Virtual fittings in fashion and retail

In fashion and retail, AR is being used as a visualization tool that allows us to measure real life objects, such as clothes or interior decoration, bridging the gap between the high street and online shopping experiences. 

During this process, a 3D virtual image is superimposed and mapped onto the user or their living rooms. Users can ‘try on’ new clothes or see how IKEA furniture looks and fits in their home, using just a smartphone.

Performance analysis in sport

In sport, XR enabled virtual spectatorship when attendances were restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also improving data, analysis, and statistics. Controllable digital avatars replicate the physical attributes and actions of sportspeople, providing a focal point for on-demand performance analysis. 

For example, AR is used by golf commentators to analyze players’ swings and demonstrate how they generate power or where they’re losing control of the club. 

Now we’ve covered XR, AR, MR and VR, it’s time to look at future prospects! With mass adoption of XR technologies just around the corner, one thing’s for certain — it’s powering and shaping metaverse development.

MetaLOX: A metaverse solution where users can play, earn and socialize 

LOX Network was founded with the aim of eliminating mobile device theft and smartphone crime globally. To realize that mission, we’ve developed a custom-built hybrid blockchain that’s powering the world’s first global decentralized mobile device blacklist. 

That same hybrid blockchain is powering MetaLOX, our very own metaverse that’s integrating NFTs, Game-Fi, and De-Fi. MetaLOX is pushing the limits of AR, MR, VR, and XR to bring users an immersive virtual experience. 

You can find out more about MetaLOX and follow our progress, by visiting our webpage. Join our community for the latest news and updates on all things SmartLOX. 

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