Cutting Through the Jargon: Demystifying the XR Industry
Your Essential Guide to Understanding Head-Mounted Wearables and Extended Reality (XR) Terminology
In the rapidly evolving world of Extended Reality (XR), understanding the jargon can sometimes feel like learning a new language. With terms like ‘Augmented Reality’, ‘Virtual Reality’, ‘Assisted Reality’, ‘Mixed Reality’, and more, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Fear not, as we’re here to help demystify these buzzwords to give you a better understand of the future of frontline work.
Let’s kick things off with the broadest term.
What is Extended Reality?
Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term encapsulating immersive technologies that blend the physical and digital worlds. This includes Assisted Reality (aR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR).
These technologies range in levels of immersion: aR maintains a strong connection to the real world by offering digital information in the user’s field of view, whereas VR offers a completely immersive digital experience, cutting off the physical world. In between these extremes, AR overlays digital information onto the real world, and MR anchors digital elements to the physical world, enabling users to interact with them. XR technologies are revolutionising industries, enhancing productivity, facilitating training and remote collaboration, and creating new forms of entertainment and education.
What is Assisted Reality?
Assisted Reality (aR), the least immersive yet safest form of XR, primarily provides the user with digital content via a heads-up display. This technology ensures that the user’s view of the real world is not obstructed, and the digital information does not interact with the environment. With aR, users can access necessary data while keeping their focus on their physical surroundings.
This technology has been particularly useful in industries like manufacturing and logistics where workers can access information without interrupting their workflow.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information onto the user’s view of the real world. This information can be graphics, sounds, or even tactile feedback. Unlike Assisted Reality, AR objects can interact with the real environment.
For example, a mechanic wearing AR glasses might see a 3D model of an engine component overlaid on the actual engine, demonstrating the steps to perform a specific task. AR’s interactive nature has made it popular in various sectors, including education, healthcare, and retail.
What is Mixed Reality?
Mixed Reality (MR) takes AR a step further by blending the digital and physical worlds more seamlessly. In MR, digital objects can be anchored to specific locations in the real world, and users can interact with these objects as if they were real. This creates a more immersive experience as the content remains in place regardless of your relative position.
This technology has been used for virtual meetings, where remote participants can appear as if they are in the same room. MR has also been utilized in design and architecture, where digital prototypes can be manipulated and viewed from different angles.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality (VR) is the most immersive form of XR. It transports the user into a completely digital environment, effectively isolating them from the physical world. VR requires special hardware like VR headsets and sometimes additional accessories like gloves or wands for interaction.
VR has found its place primarily in gaming and entertainment but is also used for training simulations in industries like aerospace, military, and medicine.
XR and the future of industry
Understanding XR and its various technologies is key to identifying where these tools can be most beneficial. In the industrial sector, the potential for XR is vast – from enhancing worker safety and productivity to facilitating remote collaboration and training.
At RealWear, we’re committed to developing head-mounted wearable solutions that help industries harness the power of XR. Our devices are designed to be rugged, reliable, and effective, providing users with the right information at the right time, while keeping their hands free and their attention on the task at hand.