What is xR? And what you need to know about it

By 5th March 2019Food for thought

With so much jargon thrown around, we thought it is best to define some of the more important ones for you when trying to understand if immersive technology can aid your project and increase success.

First of all, what is xR?

It’s the collective term for immersive technology such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) – we’ll get onto what those mean and their differences next.

When someone is referring to xR, they aren’t defining a specific technology, but a group of them that have the purpose of immersing a user.

VR

Virtual Reality (known as VR), is a simulated environment. VR places users inside an experience, instead of viewing a screen.

It enables them to be immersed in a new world, often computer generated and they are able to move within and interact with 3D worlds

AR

Augmented Reality (known as AR) is an interactive experience in which a digital overlay is superimposed onto the real world.

In AR, the user can clearly see and move around in the real world, but it’s altered with the digital overlay.

MR

Mixed Reality (MR) is a combination of both VR and AR and remove the boundaries between real and virtual interaction.

This means that the computer-generated objects can be visibly obscured in the physical environment.

Example:

At Make Real, we worked with McDonald’s UK to create a Virtual Reality farming experience, based around potato harvesting, showing the processes associated with provenance to production with McDonald’s agricultural providers.

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Example:

We created an AR experience for EDF Energy to showcase how they could use the Microsoft Hololens augmented reality headset to highlight development of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

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Example:

Our earliest deployments for construction site health & safety training and simulation used Mixed Reality, combining 3D immersive digital content and real world assets and actors, to create a unique blended experience

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Now most people reading this have probably tried VR, or at least Google Cardboard, which at its core isn’t really true VR but is great for showing 360 video

360-video

Simply put, it’s a video file that goes 360° around your head. As you turn, you can reveal more of the frame. It’s a common mistake thinking this is Virtual Reality, when in fact it’s a video format that happens to use a VR headset to view.

The xR Industry

The Extended Reality Industry is thriving, with a valuation of $3.47bn (as of 2017), but this is estimated be worth to a whopping $198.18bn in just eight years, according to research carried out by BIS.

In fact, when we break down the industry, 38% are working on VR, 36% are working on AR, and 26% on Mixed Reality.

XR has many uses, right now the top industry use cases for business and consumer XR are in Medical (71%), Manufacturing (47%), Military (46%), Tourism (28%), Retail 23%) and Transportation (20%).

For more insights:

Download our ‘XR for Business’ white paper with The Times and Raconteur,

Experiencing VR/AR/MR

Before working out whether immersive technology is right for your project or idea, it’s important to get stuck in and try it out.

Whether you’re based in the UK or overseas, there are plenty of events (especially for VR) which you can go and experience the technology, only a Google search away. There are even permanent VR bars and spaces which are great environments to get used to it.

A tip when trying VR would be to maybe avoid a Roller Coaster experience (especially if you’re not sat down comfortably). Typically, Roller Coasters aren’t the most enjoyable experiences and are meant to provoke fear – all you’ll do it not enjoy the tech when it’s the experience you most likely didn’t enjoy.

We hope that this has helped demystify some common misconceptions about the technology and wider industry, and helped differentiate jargon we often use.

If you have any questions or are interested in understanding how we can help bring your project to life with immersive technology, then get in touch: info@makereal.co.uk