What Is Extended Reality (XR)? How Is It Related To AR And VR?

What are its applications?


Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term that includes all current and future technology for Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), and everything in between. XR includes all the immersive technologies we have today and the ones we will develop in the future. Even the so-called Metaverse is synonymous with Extended Reality.

But that’s not all because it includes the entire spectrum from the ‘real’ to the ‘virtual.’ If Mixed Reality is a combination of both VR and AR, then Extended Reality is the combination of VR, AR, MR, Reality, and even the virtual world.

Extended Reality spectrum
Extended Reality spectrum

Applications of Extended Reality

Since XR is a broad term, its use cases can be derived from subsections like AR, VR, and MR. They are currently being used in various industries for different purposes. Here are a few examples of applications of Extended Reality.

Entertainment and Games

This is the most common application of XR that you can find in your day-to-day life. Even if you were living under a rock, you might have heard of Pokemon GO (AR) or watched a 360-degree video. If you are a high-end user, you might be more familiar with Virtual Reality games that you can play using a VR headset.

Big tech companies like Google, Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft, Sony, and Amazon are already building more of these experiences. Under the pretense of making the Metaverse, these companies have released XR tools to help developers build new AR/VR experiences. So you will see more of XR going forward.

XR devices

You might think VR headsets or AR glasses might be the only thing that can count as XR devices but no. Even your smartphones are XR devices with plenty of uses. Additionally, thanks to the success of the Quest 2 VR headset, VR and AR are becoming more commonplace.

Business and training

The application of Extended Reality in the real world is endless. A few applications are available such as Ikea, Amazon, and many other apps letting users see how the product they are buying will look at their place. VR meeting spaces also allow users to work together in a virtual environment, which is excellent when working remotely.

Extended Reality can also provide valuable training to pilots, doctors, soldiers by simulating various conditions in VR or AR. Previously, the experiences gained in highly intense situations were invaluable due to how rare they were. However, with XR, trainees could learn much more right from the beginning.

Future applications of Extended Reality

It is hard to imagine a future world with this kind of technology for the everyday person. Fortunately, A 2016 YouTube video called HYPER-REALITY gives us a glimpse of what a future full of Extended Reality Metaverse could look like.

XR is not a widely used technology and is still in its early phases. Some of the uses for military and medical purposes are still undergoing development. However, some applications of this technology can be seen in education and sports. But for now, we can wait and see where this technology may take us.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Nalin Rawat

Nalin Rawat

Nalin is a tech writer who covers VR, gaming, awesome new gadgets, and the occasional trending affairs of the tech industry. He has been writing about tech and gaming since he started pursuing Journalism in college. He has also previously worked in print organizations like The Statesman and Business Standard. In his free time, he plays FPS games and explores virtual reality. Reach out to him at @NalinRawat
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