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Extended reality: a digitally created wonderland

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C.Clarke

We all know technology isn’t magic but tell that to our pre-industrial ancestors, especially when it comes to the marvel of Extended Reality. 

This deceptively bland moniker offers a startling array of experiences that will affect our lives in all kinds of unpredictable and exotic ways.

Extended Reality (ER) describes a bevy of digitally-created wonderlands encapsulating Augmented Reality (where virtual content is laid over the physical environment), Virtual Reality (where people are immersed in a completely fictional environment) and Mixed Reality (which is a blend of Virtual and Augmented reality).

ER will alter our sense of the material world by obliterating the line between the physical and the digital. We’ll be able to do all kinds of outlandish things such as see through walls and doors and re-arrange sights and sounds to our individual specifications.

And in an astonishing development, we’ll even get realistic 3-D avatars that look and sound just like us. This will inevitably lead to the strange and not always welcome situation where a friend’s avatar will turn up on our sofa and proceed to converse with us as if they were really there.

Even less welcome than a friend’s sofa incursion is the likelihood that entire industries will vanish overnight as ER renders obsolete any kind of flat screen, including desktop PC monitors, laptops, and tablets. Instead, ER devices will be virtually represented on a virtual big-screen TV accessed with our Augmented Reality glasses.

In time, ER will offer a personalized experience everywhere we go. For instance, we will walk into a shop, cafe, museum, or just about anywhere we can imagine and see arrows or signs over items meant just for us or which point out things we like.

The upshot of all this digital commotion is that Arthur C. Clarke was right all along, for if this miraculous technology failed to convince our not-too-distant ancestors of the existence of magic, nothing would!

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Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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