Immersive experiences are constructed by merging the physical and virtual worlds. Among the technologies that are gaining more popularity are Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR). Recently interest in Extended Reality (XR) has grown rapidly.

Current developments in technology have led to the extension of the terminology used to describe the merging of the physical or real world with a virtual world. All mentioned terms refer to a combination of virtual and physical worlds using various digital media to create new, blended spaces. In recent years, we have heard and read a lot about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

Virtual Reality (VR) is like a new reality that is created. It is a simulation of an environment or a three-dimensional image. People can interact with that virtual environment by using equipment such as headsets, helmets, glasses, or gloves. Increasingly such equipment comes with more sophisticated sensors, enabling more refined experiences. A headset allows the user to be immersed in the VR experience; the user can see a virtual world delivered by computer-simulated images and sounds.

Augmented Reality (AR) is often described as the merging of our normal reality with computer-generated digital graphics. Unlike virtual reality, users do not experience being in a virtual world, but they see the real world with an additional digital layer. Often used by enabling the camera of handheld devices such as mobile phones or tablet computers, AR allows a new kind of display which is usually portable.


Mixed Reality (MR) combines the features of VR and AR. A more recent term, mixed reality is often used in a similar way as augmented reality. MR is used to create three-dimensional images of realistic objects or complex environments where real and virtual worlds are blended. The interaction of digital and physical elements in real-time constructs a new space. MR is defined as a “continuum between the real and the virtual environments” [1].

In addition to the combination of real-world overlaid with a virtual layer as provided by AR, digital environments for mixed reality can use not only portable devices but physical environmental elements such as rooms or buildings. The fact that both sellers and users or buyers can interact with these objects or environments makes MR attractive for application in business. Sellers can provide immersive experiences with MR that help demonstrate how a product will look in a certain space. For instance, fitting furniture into a client´s home or demonstrating how a building looks and how it will fit into an area or neighborhood are useful features for marketing and sales. Other examples include head-up displays as used in the automotive industry. Using MR, clients can interact with the object and experience it in a new way.


So, VR constructs a new reality, AR consists of the physical world that is overlaid with a digital layer, and MR allows new experiences through interaction with an object or a product… what about Extended Reality?

Extended Reality (XR)

Extended Reality or XR is a relatively new expression. It is an emerging umbrella term that includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR). The full spectrum of real and virtual environments is covered by XR. [2] It refers to computer-generated environments. By overlaying a virtual layer over the physical reality, XR creates entirely immersive user experiences using computer-generated images and sensors.

In 2019, many stakeholders of XR product companies predicted that XR will become mainstream in the next five years. [3] Industry use cases are predicted to be mainly in the medical and manufacturing industries for business XR, whereas consumer XR will be mainly focused on media and entertainment, movies, television, and the gaming industry.

In education augmented and virtual reality technology offers new training opportunities that cannot be found in traditional classroom settings. XR will allow educators to explore new educational territory. Furthermore, XR helps facilitate new experiences for students, such as observing certain topics at different points in time throughout history or exploring distant places on earth with virtual visits. Students exposed to XR are enabled to experiment and engage in new ways. They may not only learn better but could also improve crucial skills like problem-solving or other abilities that are useful in daily life.

Multisensory Extended Reality is often used together with the term extended reality. In addition to the visual and the auditory senses, which have been mainly highlighted by VR and AR, it refers to immersion into a new reality through additional senses. The human senses are extended with sensory-enabling XR technology. These include the haptic sense, enabling the touch of objects with gloves, the sense of taste, simulated with an electronic tongue, and the sense of smell, simulated through an electronic nose or diffuser technology. [4]


Which reality?

The possibilities offered by XR technology are seemingly endless. Businesses have begun to leverage this cutting-edge technology for a variety of purposes such as entertainment, education, or remote tours for remote visits to museums or tourist attractions. Marketing, real estate, the medical industry, media, and entertainment were the first to adopt it, but many more will follow soon. In 2022, the worldwide market for extended reality was valued at $38.3 billion. Predictions for 2030 see the market rise up to $394.8 billion. [5] The European XR industry is fragmented and less well-known than its competitors in Asia or the US. [6]

Industry has discovered what XR technology can do for them and has developed innovative ways to make use of these advanced technologies. As AR and VR are increasingly adopted, a rapidly growing list of sectors invests in the development of new applications.

New technologies are likely to continue the creation of additional new realities. People are given more control over how they interact with their physical or digital environment. Use cases for XR are seen in almost every industry. As potential applications for XR may go far beyond the sectors mentioned, XR is foreseen to revolutionize every industry in the near future.



[2] XR4ALL is an initiative by the European Commission to strengthen the European XR industry. For more information see


[4] Santoso, H. B., Wang, J. C., & Windasari, N. A. (2022). Impact of multisensory extended reality on tourism experience journey. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology.



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