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The Building Blocks of Extended Reality: How Separate Technologies Can Work Together

June 22, 2023

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(Based on the article: Immersive Experiences and XR: A Game Engine or Multimedia Streaming Problem?)

Extended reality (XR) is the umbrella term for multiple immersive experiences, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). While all three of these technologies provide different immersive experiences, they all have the same building blocks that allow them to function. There’s a lot that goes into these systems, and each brings their own set of problems and benefits.

The most important aspect of XR is showing content in a virtual space. This is achieved with a variety of technology and techniques, including volumetric capture, streaming technology, and video game engines. Volumetric capture uses multiple cameras to capture a real-world object from multiple angles, allowing audiences to interact with said object. Streaming tech allows volumetric and CG images to be delivered to these systems. Video game engines allow people to interact in these virtual spaces while providing additional visual enhancements including backgrounds and characters.

But the technical fusions don’t stop there. Haptic systems, technology that simulates the sense of touch, are often built in to make experiences even more immersive. Audio technologies help with these experiences too. And the architecture built by these content providers, and powered through these devices, makes everything work together in an intricate technical dance. However, with many systems come many hurdles.

A lot of these technologies struggle to be interoperable with one another, and functionality varies between devices. Even if some bugs and operation issues are resolved, it’s no guarantee that current XR devices will be compatible with these fixes. The biggest issue is that standards need to be developed with all these systems in mind. This tech is still relatively new, so synergy between these technologies has been difficult at best. That said, the minds that work on all these systems are working diligently to make interoperability a reality.

XR is becoming extremely popular, and each device and system operates slightly differently. Some techniques work better than others, but some are still up for debate. For example, tech companies are trying to figure out whether video game engines work better than multimedia streaming tech to deliver content to consumers. These problems will be solved in the near future, and all of the technologies involved in these systems will work together better than ever. For the time being, though, it’s pretty impressive that all of these different technologies work together as well as they do, even without a consistent format.

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