The Math Behind Immersive Technologies


This blog post has nothing to do with statistics, analytics, valuations, or sales predictions. In fact, it’s more about letters than numbers.

V + A + M = X

This isn’t a formula. This is a representation of how some people in the industry are trying to merge the different types of immersive technologies into a single paradigm. Each of the individual ‘realities’ has a descriptive word preceding it, to differentiate them from one another. The ‘X’ is being used as a catch-all for the entire lot.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Viewed by devices such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and a variety of phone-based mobile HMDS, this technology is fully immersive, containing complete environments, full of experiential content, and meant to invoke a sense of ‘presence’ in another world.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Utilizing the real world as it’s environment, this technology is mostly viewed via a mobile device with a camera that can show 3D content on it’s screen, overlayed on a real world marker or image.

Mixed Reality (MR)

Coined by Microsoft, and most notably consumed on the Hololens, this technology takes Augmented Reality to the next level by understanding it’s real world environment and ‘projecting’ 3D content onto it. Since the Hololens is a wearable device, this form of AR is more immersive, thus worthy of it’s own unique moniker.

Merged Reality (also MR)

Intel, with it’s ‘Project Alloy’ headset, is attempting to do the opposite of Mixed Reality, by bringing the real world into a Virtual Reality environment. This gives you the fully immersive VR experience, along with a sense of your body and environment. Opposite might not be the right term, but it’s definitely very different.

Should all of these forms of reality be combined? Are they similar enough to validate an all encompassing ‘X’?

I’m okay with it, for now, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. If manufacturers keep adding new descriptive letters in from of an ‘R’ to differentiate their new technology from the rest of the players, then this is going to get ugly fairly quickly. For example, if Apple decides to release a headset called ‘iR’, and Google re-brands Daydream to be ‘GR’, then the ‘X’ will gain way more responsibility than the original intention.

Then again, with this being a new industry, and a confusing concept for the non-informed, there may be some value to teaching average consumers one easy term, like XR. Let them learn the differences as they become more educated about this new medium.

What are your thoughts? Do you think XR is acceptable, or do you cringe at every tweet containing those letters?