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immersive technology

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Immersive technology is an integration of virtual content with the physical environment in a way that allows the user to engage naturally with the blended reality.  In an immersive experience, the user accepts virtual elements of their environment as part of the whole, potentially becoming less conscious that those elements are not part of physical reality. 

Immersive technologies include:

Virtual reality (VR) – a digital environment that replaces the user’s physical surroundings.

Augmented reality (AR) – digital content that is superimposed over a live stream of the physical environment.

Mixed reality (MR) – an integration of virtual content and the real world environment that enables interaction among elements of both.

Holography – the creation of a 3D image in space that can be explored from all angles.

Telepresence – a form of robotic remote control in which a human operator has a sense of being in another location. The user could, for example, guide the robot through a party or an office, stopping and chatting with people throughout the environment.

Digital twin – a virtual replication of some real-world object that connects to the object for information so that it can display its current status. 

FPV drone flight –  use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a camera that wirelessly transmits video feed to goggles, a headset, a mobile device or another display so that the user has a first-person view (FPV) of the environment where the drone flies.  

Supporting technologies for immersive experiences include AR, MR and VR headsets, 3D displays, 3D audio, gesture recognition, spatial sensing, speech recognition, haptics, drones, cameras and omnidirectional treadmills.

Immersive technologies exist at various points on what is sometimes referred to as the virtuality continuum, a range that has the unadulterated physical environment at one extreme and a fully immersive virtual reality at the other.

This was last updated in April 2018

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