What is the metaverse and immersive technologies?

immersive technologies: metavers, ar, vr, mr, xr
Antoine Charneau - 20/12/2021

What are immersive technologies (AR, VR, MR, XR, metavers)?

These technologies are not new and have evolved a lot since they first appeared, whether in software or hardware, and in particular hardware and in particular virtual reality headsets. As the 21st century progresses, immersive technologies are both increasing in number and becoming more advanced.

So, we will try to understand each immersive technology in this article, from augmented reality to the metaversthe trendy term of the moment. Their multiple uses in different sectors, such as video games, tourism, retail, social networks and many others contribute to their democratisation, showing the impact of virtual reality on society and making us more familiar with it.

The stakes around these technologies The stakes around these technologies are not only financial, because if we are overwhelmed by the metaverse wave these days, it is also socially that they could prove to be a real leap forward. Indeed, the global pandemic and the various confinements have reignited the debate around remote working and connectivity between individuals. And if our reality has its own limits, digital reality, i.e. the one created by man, could bring another dimension.

But what are immersive technologies and what are they? (AR, VR, MR, XR, metavers)

What is Extended Reality?(XR in English)

To fully understand all these technologies, we must first look at the virtuality continuumdeveloped in January 1994 by Paul Milgram, Haruo Takemura, Akira Utsumi and Fumio Kishino. This continuous scale is the boundary between virtuality (virtual environment) and reality (real environment). Thus, it encompasses all possible variations and compositions of real and virtual objects. This continuum is now part of a larger framework: extended reality. This is a superset that includes the whole spectrum from the complete real to the complete virtual. It therefore covers the various immersive technologies: augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, but also the metaverse.

What is Augmented Reality?(AR in English)

Augmented reality is a technology that makes it possible to integrate virtual elements in 3D (in real time) within a real environment. The principle is to combine the virtual and the real and give the illusion of perfect integration to the user. Augmented reality perceived through AR glasses is rather called mixed reality, which we will see below.

Our application Instore Activation application uses this technology. It allows, through a smartphone, to project a realistic visualization of concept and design proposals (virtual object) directly into a customer's point of sale (real place).

What is Virtual Reality?(VR in English)

Virtual reality is a technology that allows you tobe immersed in a virtual environment created from scratch in 3Dor from real 360° shots. To be immersed, you can use a virtual reality headset or a smartphone equipped with a VR adapter such as a cardboard. This allows you to turn your head 360° around, move in space and interact with the environment using controllers.

Our application Retail Staging allows you to immerse yourself in these two types of virtual environments:

  • digital twins: this is simply a digital replica of an element, whether it is an object, a place or a process. It is the equivalent of Google Street View.
  • virtually reconstructed shopping environments: a 3D environment is created from scratch.

There are several ways to move within these environments:

  • on a smartphone or tablet
  • on a PC
  • with a VR headset and controllers

What is Mixed Reality?(MR in English)

Mixed reality is a term that designates devices for viewing 3D content through a dedicated medium (headset or glasses). By definition, this term is a mix between augmented reality and virtual reality. To experience MR, you will need an Augmented Reality headset. With these devices, the user's position is calculated in real time and it is possible to physically interact with the virtual elements through gestures or joysticks.

What is the Metaverse?(Metaverse in English)

For some time now, it has been the new king of the party. The craze has increased with the name change of Facebook and the positioning of the various web giants such as Microsoft like Microsoft, Epic Games, Apple and therefore Meta (ex-Facebook).

The notion of metaverse appeared in 1992 with the novel Snow Crash, written by Neal Stephenson. His vision is based on how the internet could evolve using virtual reality. 

It combines the prefix "meta" (meaning "beyond") and "universe" which refers to virtual space. The term represents a fictional virtual world created artificially by a computer program. This parallel world would allow users to move around, interact socially and sometimes economically, in the form of an avatar. 

To understand the metaverse, we need to look at different games that come close. In 2003, the game Second Life was one of the precursors of the genre. It allowed people to play as virtual characters in a world created by the residents themselves. Today, the video games Fortnite and Roblox are the leaders in this genre. They have made it possible to follow virtual concerts by Travis Scott, Ariana Grande or Zara Larsson, through his avatar.

What future for immersion?

To understand the issues surrounding immersive technologies and more particularly the metaverse, we need to see the interest shown by the various players in the field. Already in strong growth for a few years, the sector has become more dynamic with the craze generated by this virtual universe. The GAFAMs and other web giants are investing massively to develop it and take advantage of it.

The next step in immersion is the use of virtual or augmented reality headsets or glasses in everyday life. Indeed, this would allow mixing virtual and real. On the other hand, the video of Meta video gives a glimpse of what the metaverse could allow.

We are entering a new chapter!

If you want to offer an immersive experience, contact us now! We can help you with augmented reality, virtual reality or metaverse. We are the recognised specialists in 3D applied to retail!


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