What on earth is Extended Reality??
Extended Reality (XR) is a emerging umbrella term for the different immersive technologies that exist today. These are some that you have probably already heard of but technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) are considered to be extended reality technologies. As technology quickly advances, there will only be more specific technologies within this umbrella that comes out.
Uses Today and in the Future
There are many industries where XR can disrupt in a good way. Healthcare is one of those prominent industries that is already seeing the benefit of Extended reality.
As the above infographic shows, there are 4 ways explained of how XR can benefit this industry. Medical school students can use XR like pictured on the right side, to see 3d models of what they are learning instead of just reading textbooks. Studies have shown this type of learning helps individuals retain more information which is a great benefit. Another benefit is the long term savings in cost. Even though a company/organization has to shelve out money initially to buy the XR products and train people how to use it, overtime the costs will be less the more the products are used. For example, in elderly healthcare facilities, it costs up to $3000 to teach and train a medical professional how to do a tracheal insertion which is a pretty common procedure. This training entails professionals coming out to train in person, resources being needed from external vendors, etc. However using XR, the training was found to be only $40 for each person!
On March 30 in 2016, Microsoft released their HoloLens which is describes as a “Mixed reality augmented reality head-mounted display smart glasses.” Even looking at it, it looks futuristic but even though it has been out for 4 years now, it still hasn't been fully utilized because of further development. Still too expensive for the regular consumer at $3000-$5000, the HoloLens is currently marketed to businesses who want to use Microsoft Azure with HoloLens to increase collaboration. With the Covid-19 Pandemic showing us that work from home is here to stay, HoloLens not only helps training, but helps connect people with each other in a new way. HoloLens is one of the examples of possibilities of what extended reality can do.
Extended reality also makes it easier and safer for the workforce do their job. For healthcare for example, medical professionals can use extended reality to find veins faster which creates a better experience for the patient and decreases the risk of poking the wrong vein. Other areas where XR can be used for training purposes is in the military, police, drivers Ed, tech support, and many more. The future is a world where we are going to be interconnected with technology whether we like it not and Extended Reality is going to be a big part of that change.