Extended reality is a ‘thing’ and companies are investing – but why?

extended reality
Image by Sam Wordley | Bigstockphoto

Extended Reality is the new word on the block, taking its place beside Artificial Reality, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Unless, of course, it replaces all of these now-familiar terms.

Extended Reality came to our attention not through normal channels but through an article that said Orange was investing in a fund to accelerate ‘immersive’ technologies. Indeed, the article describes Extended Reality as a sector.

The reason for Orange to invest in Extended Reality and immersive technologies is to find things for its 5G networks to do.

Which seems a little odd.

For a company to have to invest in a fund that comes up with new ideas and technologies for it to be able to monetise its infrastructure does not seem logical. But maybe that is the way the world works nowadays.

Immersive technology seems to contradict extended reality in any event. On the one hand, we seem to be reaching out, going to Mars, conquering the Universe. On the other, we seem to be becoming more and more insular. And this seems to be happening at many levels.

Globally we are shrinking. Part of this is because the pandemic isolates us, but a large part is the new nervousness, the new suspicion that everyone is out to spy on you or do you harm. So we put up barriers.

Extended Reality is not about expanding; it is about being more involved with ourselves, creating realities that probably do not exist. Of course, there will be applications – for training, work, play, entertainment, but it suddenly seems wrong.

Let us hope that immersive technologies and extended reality do not bury the human, make it pointless ever to meet, to shake someone’s hand and to trust them instinctively. Or not.

It is false enough to invest in something like Extended Reality to – someday – create a revenue stream that might help justify another investment (in 5G).

Are we in danger of creating a false world, not an extended one?

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