What is XR?

4th April 2020

 

XR stands for Extended Reality, and encompasses any type of technology that creates a new, digital, reality. This is Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and any Mixed Reality (MR) technology that helps simulate and immerse you in a virtual world. This doesn’t have to be as scary or escapist as it sounds,  and their applications have already spanned across most industries in helping them work more efficiently, improve their training and aid their marketing efforts. 

Let's go through a quick breakdown of each one.

 

 

AUGMENTED REALITY (AR)

So how do we extend our reality? Well, you’ve already done it if you’ve ever used an Instagram or Snapchat filter. This is called augmented reality, and it involves taking real world imagery and enhancing it with computer generated information (CGI), for example animations, audio, and 3D objects . Take Ikea’s AR app, which allows customers to trial their new products in their houses before they take the leap and buy them. Another popular example of this is the phenomenon that is filters. Found on most of the mainstream social medias, these are pre-programmed effects layered over camera displays, ranging from adding accessories or make-up to faces, to putting a CGI tiger in your living room (thank you Tiger King).  Perfect for giving your audience a taste of your world.

 

“XR advertising is being hailed as the Holy Grail for building brand affinity” - Forbes, 2019

 

man in black jacket and blue denim jeans with white and black panda mask

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)

Next, we move onto virtual reality. In 2018, it was estimated there were around 171 million VR users (Statista), and since then the market has seen exponential growth. Virtual Reality, as opposed to Augmented Reality, is a completely immersive media that surrounds the viewer (using a VR headset) and totally replaces thier real world. As the name suggests, the viewer's reality becomes entirely fictional.  This simulated experience can either be created digitally (animation / 3D graphics) or filmed with a 360˚ camera (live action VR) - or it can be a mixture of both. What is most striking about this medium is that it mimicks the way we naturally look around: the VR headset tracks the users motions and adjusts the 360˚ display to correspond to where they're looking. VR allows people to step into and exist in another world, and its applications are endless. The gaming industry quickly adopted it, as did the education and the medical world - not to mention the success it’s seen in porn. Next: the music industry. 


 

 

MIXED REALITY (MR)

So what is mixed reality? Well, you might have guessed it. It’s the merging of both real and virtual worlds to create environments in which both physical and digital objects live in harmony and can interact with one another. Hailing from Microsoft, the term was coined to be synonymous with their Hololens MR headset and is one of the more recent innovations that fall under the extended reality umbrella. Where AR tends to be pre-programmed CGI, Mixed Reality allows more interaction and manipulation of the digital graphics which gives it fantastic practical applications in training and education. MR can often be thought of as the media we imagine when we think of hyper futuristic technology: a team of workers are sat around the table and one of them conjurs up a hologram that illustrates their point, while another person steps in and slightly alters it to improve it. These kind of shared experiences will actually be possible now, thanks to the Microsoft Hololens. Interested? Check out Mesh.
 

 

As you can tell, the differnet types of XR are cropping into our every day and work lives - providing us with entertaining, interactive and informative experiences. It doesn’t have to be a terrifyingly digital future (though if you’re interested in that I recommend you watch Keiichi Matsuda’s ‘Hyper-Reality' short film which will feed your fantasy). No, these technologies are here to help us, aid our discovery, and enhance our understanding of things in the most entertaining and immersive way.
 

That’s why at The Music Trip, we’re focusing on applying these mediums specifically to music.  XR technology makes any kind of creative experience possible for everyone to enjoy, regardless of their surroudings. We prioritise working with artists, brands and event organisers to bring their work into the XR realm in a format that is appropriate for them and effectively engages their audiences. XR might not be right for everyone, but the variety AR, VR and MR offer across their range of  applications means we can help our clients in choosing the right media for them. 

 

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