(Pocket-lint) – With conversation ramping up surrounding the metaverse and the ways in which we’ll interact with it, you may be hearing the word XR thrown about more often.

While most people are familiar with VR thanks to the popularity of devices like the Oculus Quest. You’ll probably be far less acquainted with the concept of XR, and the way in which the term is used often does little to clarify what exactly XR is. Thankfully, XR is simpler than it may first appear, so let’s dive in.

What is XR?

XR is an abbreviation of Extended Reality. It’s an umbrella term that covers the combination of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. Devices that claim to be capable of XR can deliver experiences relating to all three. So, to better understand what XR entails, here’s have a refresher on its three main components.

Virtual Reality

VR is a technology that allows you to put on a headset and enter a virtual world that you can interact with. It’s most commonly used for gaming but VR can also be used to create art, have social interactions and even be used as a fitness tool.

Augmented Reality

AR is the process of combining virtual elements with the real world. There’s a good chance that you’ve already had an AR experience using the camera on your phone. Some examples are games like Pokemon Go or Snapchat filters that place 3D objects on your head.

Mixed Reality

MR combines VR and AR to create an immersive experience where virtual objects interact with the real world. MR is still an emerging technology and usually relies on niche hardware like Microsoft’s HoloLens.

What devices support XR?

Since XR is an umbrella term that includes everything from VR gaming to, by some definitions, things as simple as Google Maps; it can be tricky to pinpoint exactly what an XR device is. Technically, your phone is an XR device but that’s not really the kind of experience that we’re talking about in this article.

We think the best examples of XR devices are headsets that are capable of both MR and VR experiences in one device. Currently, these tend to be traditional VR headsets with cameras on the front like the Vive Pro 2 and Valve Index.

Unfortunately, these devices tend to be VR first with MR feeling like something of an afterthought. This is for the simple reason that there is a lot more VR content to be played and consumed, compared with MR which is more niche, mainly being explored by the enterprise and industrial sectors.

Now though, with companies like Meta pushing toward the integration of XR experiences, we’re expecting to see many more XR ready devices hitting the market.

How will XR be used in the metaverse?

Technically speaking, the metaverse concept as outlined by Facebook (or Meta) is XR. Mark Zuckerberg said that the metaverse is “the future we are working towards. A virtual environment where you can be present with people in a digital space.” He also stated that Facebook’s metaverse will be accessible from all devices and apps, so it won’t be just a VR experience.

As frustratingly vague as the metaverse concept is, we know it will take elements of VR, AR and MR and combine them with traditional internet use as a platform for socialising, gaming and working. If that sounds quite a lot like XR, that’s because it is.

Writing by Luke Baker.





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