Extended reality—augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR)—has made a widespread comeback after years of hype. In ways that even the highest-definition screen cannot, commercially accessible, reasonably priced VR headsets transport users to alternate realities—fantasy worlds, distant countries, and sporting events. More meaningful data is received in visual and audio formats with AR glasses than it is from a laptop or smartphone. Virtual and physical realities are combined to create new realities in immersive MR environments. Technology author Samuel Greengard clearly reviews recent breakthroughs in extended reality in this book from the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series. He explains the technology, takes into account its social and psychological effects, and discusses potential future paths.
Greengard explores the many types of VR, AR, and MR, such as head-mounted displays, mobile devices, and goggles, and discusses the history and technological advancement of augmented and virtual worlds, including the most recent research in the field. He investigates how some professions and sectors are affected by these technologies and how extended reality affects psychology, morality, the law, and social constructions. He contends that the key questions are not if extended reality will become a common practice but rather how, when, and where these technologies will be adopted. Will virtual reality be used to improve the world? Will society as a whole gain from it? Or will it only bring a few people wealthy windfalls? With the help of Greengard’s account, we are better equipped to discuss a game-changing technology.