Could XR be the next big thing?

Is XR another marketing buzzword or does it carry real substance?
8 January 2019

VR all set to go big this year. Source: iStock

X-Reality (XR) can mean different things to different people. Some call it a label for a collection of immersive video standards, a high-quality media experience; others call it just another buzzword.

Speaking to Wired, General Manager of HumanEyes, Jim Malcolm, says that XR can cover augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) as it does not refer to any specific technology.

The company’s virtual reality camera, VuzeXR, is a prime example of how the ‘XR’ moniker explores this theme. It captures both 360-degree, ‘flat video’ in 4K, and 180-degree, stereo or 3D video in 5.7K.

In a research paper authored by Steve Mann, Tom Furness Yu Yuan, Jay Iorio, and Zixin Wang, XR is explored in greater detail.

In 1961, Charles Wyckoff filed a patent for his “XR” film which allowed people to see nuclear explosions and other phenomena beyond the range of normal human vision.

Thirty years later, Wyckoff and Mann worked together to build ‘XR vision’ devices into wearable computers (AR/VR headsets) for human augmentation and sensory extension by way of High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging as well.

Over the years, certain companies like Sony even attached XR to some of its products to add a bit of luster to their products.

Like all fads, they will eventually fade, but the real substance will always last.

Khronos Group recently launched an initiative called OpenXR to create a common programming interface for developers to make apps that do not fall strictly in the AR or VR category for future use.

The research paper, co-authored by Mann, highlights some interesting technologies that are yet to be explored and hold great promise for the future of these sensory-based experiences.

Wild ideas such as interactive sleep masks for lucid dreaming, interactive multimedia bathing environments, interactive relaxation tanks and perhaps even interactive darkrooms for light-painting could also be on offer.

In the paper, the researchers speculate that XR has the potential to be integrated into surveillance operations that cover corporations, nations, and governments in the future.

Working with AI systems, these XR technologies, for example in an AR/VR/MR headset could be the next big thing in high-tech surveillance.

Industry observers acknowledged that XR is basically a cumulative theme that tries to include all these existing realities and most people are still learning about them.

Nonetheless, experts believe that there could be a convergence of technology in this space which would really bring the ‘XR’ tag to the forefront of every deployment within enterprises as well.

We have seen how AR and VR are boosting business and revolutionizing enterprise training, so it’s just a matter of time before XR gets into the mix to offer an even richer and immersive approach towards re-imagining the way we do things.