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The Basics of XR Technologies

What Are XR Technologies?

Extended reality (XR) technologies include virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). In this Toolkit, the terms XR technologies and immersive technologies mean the same thing. These technologies are part of a new kind of personal computing, where people experience and interact with digital content that surrounds them in both physical and virtual spaces. XR technologies enable engaging experiences that feel more realistic than the experiences created by two-dimensional computing technologies.

Examples of XR Technologies

woman with a virtual reality headset with her hand raised with overlay of digital imagery

Virtual Reality (VR)

VR replaces a user’s real surroundings with a simulated environment and all-digital content. Examples include a manufacturing facility, meeting room, virtual auditorium, outdoor environment or global destination.

A smartphone view of a grocery aisle with virtual discount banners on specific shelves

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR overlays digital content onto a user’s view of the real world, providing a composite view. For example, an AR might provide text, video or audio instructions or directions that are relevant to a type of setting or physical environment.

A man wearing a VR headset looking at a virtual engine

Mixed Reality (MR)

MR allows users to manipulate and experience digital content in their physical environments in real-time. For example, a user might place digital content onto surfaces like real tables or walls, or a remote person might be represented by a hologram that moves around a real room.

Why XR Technologies Are in Demand

As remote work grows in popularity, employers are searching for new ways to keep employees connected. According to CNBC, some organizations have seen an uptick in employer adoption of immersive technologies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many experts predict that immersive technologies will be our next major computing platform. These experts indicate that immersive technologies will succeed the two-dimensional screens of laptops and smartphones.

Below are a few highlights from the 2021 XR Association report, Insights And Industry Trends For HR And Learning & Development. These findings are based on the XR Association’s market research survey of 250 HR professionals across industries.

  • 92% of HR professionals report an increased interest in using XR technology as a pandemic recovery tool.
  • 81% of HR professionals have already widely adopted XR for Learning & Development and 61% for Recruiting & Talent Management.
  • 61% of those surveyed believe XR will help them provide expanded work opportunities for talent located throughout the U.S.

Computer screen with camera and 4 person icons on it divided by a grid

The Basics of Hybrid Work

What Is a Hybrid Workplace?

In a hybrid workplace, some employees work in a physical office while others work remotely. Remote work, also known as telework, lets employees complete their jobs from different locations using devices like laptops, smartphones and emerging technology tools, including XR. Most hybrid workplaces rely on technology to keep on-site and remote employees connected.

Why Hybrid Work Is in Demand

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many organizations to switch to telework without much preparation. However, the shift came more naturally than many employers expected. In fact, a McKinsey Global Survey indicated that, “In the case of remote working, respondents actually say their companies moved 40 times more quickly than they thought possible before the pandemic.”

After taking time to build their telework infrastructures, many employers now see the value of keeping remote work to achieve their missions and enhance employee engagement. According to a 2021 survey from the Conference Board, employers report that they will offer more remote work options even after the pandemic has subsided.

As employers evaluate how they will operate going forward, many are considering hybrid work models. This is potentially good news for employees with disabilities, who may benefit from flexible work situations depending on their health, location or other needs.

Continue to Section 2: Learn How XR Technologies Support Hybrid Workplaces