Digital reality

A technical primer

Approximately every decade since the 1970s, there seems to have been a major transformation in the technology industry. Each transformation is typically illustrated by a leap forward in how we interact with and apply technology and data in our daily lives. The 1970s saw the initial transition from large mainframes in clean rooms to desktop personal computers, where interaction was facilitated through the keyboard and keystrokes. In the 1980s, the introduction of the graphical user interface (GUI) allowed interaction with data through the mouse and the pointer. The 1990s saw the commercial adoption of the Internet, allowing the sharing of data globally. In the following decade, the explosive success of the smartphone led to touch—and later, voice—becoming our primary interface. In this decade, we are moving into the next transformation—digital realityTM, where our means of interface is expected to be the gesture, our emotions, and our gaze.

In this technical primer, we refer to the gamut of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), 360° video, and immersive experience capabilities as digital reality, except when alluding to the individual technology in its specific sense. In later sections, we define these technologies and describe their drivers, possible challenges in implementation, market potential, and some industrial applications.

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