You don’t have to be particularly eagle-eyed to notice that us marketers love an acronym. So, here’s another shiny one that everyone’s talking about – XR.
Yes, there are a lot of these acronyms bouncing around. But don’t worry, XR (extended reality) isn’t here to confuse things further. Rather, XR is the umbrella term for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR, AR & MR) – the technologies that are already proving incredibly effective across industries such as healthcare, real estate, manufacturing, and of course, entertainment.
In fact, by just 2022, the industry is predicted to be worth over $209 billion. And it’s genuinely exciting. While XR is not a new technology in its own right, the emergence of the term speaks volumes about the future.
No longer will the use of the three technologies in everyday life seem alien, novel and in some cases, forced. Instead, these technologies will integrate effortlessly and somewhat subconsciously with our day-to-day; we’ll barely even notice as our reality is genuinely extended.
That’s good, right?
So, with XR comes the promise of making the connected generation even more connected; we’re already seeing technologies like Microsoft’s HoloLens and Magic Leap One simultaneously immersing us in both the digital and physical world.
That sounds great, but nowadays, ‘connected’ is a funny word.
The problem is, with so much amazing content at our fingertips, we’re becoming disconnected from what’s actually in front of us. How many people do you see sat at dinner on their phones, seemingly oblivious to those around them, for example?
In an ideal world, we’d keep in touch with what’s going on ‘out there’ in the digital world, but also engage with what’s going on around us. In the past, that just hasn’t seemed feasible.
But rather than sucking us further away from the real world, XR provides the opportunity for us to stay connected, while connected.
XR is already creating shared experiences
In fact, XR is already creating experiences that people can enjoy together. For example, Denver Museum of Nature and Science made use of AR to enable visitors to see ‘real’ dinosaurs instead of their fossils on a day out with the family, while VR in the sporting industry allows those who can’t make it to the game to avoid the crowds, but feel like you’re right there in the action.
But this isn’t just important for those die-hard sports fans that can’t miss a game, think of the positive impact it could have for those who might be disabled and physically cannot make it to their favourite events. In a similar fashion, those in hospital can be virtually taken out of the ward, allowing them to share bucket-list experiences that previously weren’t possible.
These are just a few examples – we’ve barely even scratched the surface of the dramatic impact XR is already having.
The future is here
If all this seems farfetched, think how quickly technology develops - just a few years ago, TV’s were boxes, laptops were far from portable, and the thought of smartphones was the stuff of dreams. But now we can pretty much run our whole lives from our pockets.
Kelly Allison, MD of KVA, shares her vision on what is possible with XR: ‘Digital as a landscape is often perceived as cold and unemotional and what we’re doing at KVA is to use emerging tech to create emotional experiences and positive brand interactions that are memorable and influencing. The practical uses for XR go far beyond what is obvious on the surface and offer blended engagement opportunities which merge the on and offline worlds, a transformation challenge that a lot of companies encounter.’
With XR already creating such immersive experiences for businesses and their customers, it’s exciting to think what the future will look like as these ever-evolving technologies integrate more and more into our everyday lives, offering us the opportunity to stay connected, while connected.