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The ways we accomplish our daily work have evolved significantly over the past decades. From sitting in offices at desks with pencil and paper to working from anywhere with tablets and smartphones, the digital revolution has changed how we work both from the tools used as well as the experience. As the revolution continues we now see the rise of extended reality (XR) in the enterprise which provides new devices and experiences that change how we work and interact with data and people.

What is XR?

Extended reality (XR) is a somewhat generic label for a number of technologies that affect how we interact with our data and our environment. Two of the major component technologies include virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). VR provides a fully-immersive experience where sight, sound and touch are driven by the content and other external sensory inputs are blocked. This experience is provided by headsets worn by the user along with hand-held controllers. AR provides a view of the user's real word environment with additional information overlaid onto the display being used. This could include someone's phone or tablet as well as wearables such as digital eyeglasses.

Examples of extended reality (XR)

XR has tremendous potential in the enterprise with new and innovative use cases arising constantly. Examples of how XR is changing how work is done, include:

Immersive training
XR-based training allows learners to "do" instead of simply read or watch a manual or presentation. This active learning style increases knowledge retention and skill development that may be challenging or impossible under standard learning modalities. 

One example includes virtual surgeries and medical procedures where the student can "see" and "perform" with sensory feedback for a more realistic experience that enables the development of muscle memory. Another example is law enforcement training for adverse and stressful scenarios where the technology can track where an officer's eyes are looking and where their weapon is pointing at any given time. In both examples the training can be recorded and analyzed to provide real-time feedback for improvement. 

Sales and retail
XR technology is being used to provide virtual real estate tours in which the prospective buyer can virtually walk through a property and experience the layout, size, and flow in 360-degree detail. Far more immersive than what pictures or 2D-based videos can provide. 

XR is also used to provide real-time virtual try-ons of makeup products so customers can immediately see a new shade of lipstick or nail polish on themselves in a virtual mirror. XR also allows customers to use their mobile device to see a product on the shelf in a store to gain additional contextual information, like size and color options as well as related items. 

Design and visualization
Since XR can provide a 360-degree experience of locations around the world, it can help film and TV creators scout locations virtually with reduced travel requirements while still fully experiencing the area. Similarly, lighting directors can use XR to virtually stage sets and entire scenes to visualize where actors and props should be located and how the lighting should be designed to achieve a desired look. In both cases, XR accelerates the creative process and optimizes costs. 

With XR technology, virtual meetings can be held with participants from around the world but feel like everyone is sitting around the same table. This helps eliminate proximity bias that can plague hybrid meetings. 

Rich collaboration on product designs is also possible by interactions with virtual 3D or augmented 2D assets and virtual whiteboards. The experience is more inclusive for all participants and accelerates time to outcomes.

Want to learn more about extended reality (XR)?

While XR has tremendous potential in the enterprise, there are many considerations that must be addressed when implementing this capability at scale. XR-related devices must be managed and secured like any other endpoint. Additionally, a quality user experience with devices is critical and key for XR technology adoption and value.