By fully immersing people within a digital, interactive environment, XR could represent a seismic shift in the way we interact with computers and with one another. XR promises to create more embodied, immersive, authentic-feeling experiences than we have had with digital media.
Allowing us to inhabit virtual worlds with one another.
Displaying and merging digital objects into our physical environment.
Combinations of virtual and augmented reality.
While its use for entertainment, and especially gaming, has received some of the greatest attention and investment, XR has already demonstrated benefits in areas like education and health. Rather than simply watching an educational video about the pyramids in Egypt, for instance, XR could help create an embodied, authentic feeling of climbing up the passageway to the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid and standing in front of the sarcophagus.
At the same time, XR also raises novel questions and issues, expanding on what was possible with the Internet thus far. Consider, for instance, how threats and harassment will also become a more authentic, embodied experience, and the wider mental and physical health implications of immersion within a digital environment. These experiences will be powered not just by data we input into a keyboard, but also highly sensitive biometric data like how our eyes move in response to specific stimuli.
The future of this technology is not written in stone. Now is the time to work proactively to create solutions that empower individuals and support the broader public interest.