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“Hey, Hey, Stop! What are you running after?”, asked a petrified old chap to a young lad of about 15. “Uncle, I believe my Pokémon is in your house. Cunning fellow had escaped last week…Oh, look there it is!” exclaimed the youngster while aiming his smartphone at the old man’s porch. “Ah, gotcha!” murmured the boy, mouthed an almost silent thank you and left. The old man shook his head in bewilderment, “What will happen to this generation”, he wondered. But, the fault was in no way his. He belonged to an era when boys would run after merely two things, tennis balls in their childhood and girls in their youth. What in the world was this god-forsaken Pokémon that was not visible to the naked eye? How was that child able to capture it in his cell phone? Is technology making people derive pleasure from foolish means?

Let us take a look.

Treading new paths and re-inventing imagination are daily chores for technology. It is sprinting towards the future or if I may, bringing the future to the present. These cold-cuts of future are served with the seasoning of relief and dressing of hope. Hope that shines through inconveniences and speaks in a soft voice that the future will be splendid, or easier, or both.

Of the latest cash crops harvested by advancing technology, the most prominent and promising is Extended Reality (XR). As a concept, XR is not new for mankind. We become a part of extended reality in our dreams and nightmares, gloom and glee, and hope and its absence, alike. Our minds’ manifestations of XR are either safe havens for us to hide from our demons or in itself a home to our worst fears. But computer-generated Extended Reality and the one that is weaved by our mind (read, our imagination) are incomparable. They differ in nature and purpose.

The first representative of XR is Virtual Reality (VR). Etymologically an oxymoron, the world of virtual reality is fascinating, diverse, and relatively unexplored. The immersive environment of VR lenses attempts to replicate real world in order to create a lifelike experience grounded in reality or science fiction. It is primarily employed in the fields of gaming, exposure therapy, treatment of psychological disorders, trauma, and phobias; and 3D cinema.

Next in line is Augmented Virtuality (AV). A sub-type of Mixed reality, AV integrates real world objects with the virtual world. It refers to predominantly virtual terrains, where physical elements, e.g. objects or people, are dynamically merged into, and can interact with, the virtual world in real time. AV finds a special mention in popular culture. Hindi cinema itself has produced films such as ‘Toonpur ka Superhero’ and ‘Ra.One’ that revolve around Augmented Virtuality.

Last but not the least, Augmented Reality (AR) is essentially the converse of AV. AR integrates computer-generated perceptual information with one’s environment in real time, and needless to say, it has taken the digital sector by storm. Calling augmented reality, a mere advancement in technology is an understatement, it is nothing less than a revolution.

The applications of AR in our daily lives have grown over the years, from directions on google maps to snapchat face filters, from games such as Pokémon go to bitmojis. Moreover, AR, at times, doubles-up as the mirror of erised and through its faculties, makes us feel better about ourselves but only for brief, fleeting moments.

However, augmented reality is not limited to filters, virtual cosmetics etc, AR—if exploited the right way—can take mankind to summits it hasn’t scaled at a much faster pace than previously expected. Powers of augmented reality can be used to avail day-to-day amenities more efficiently.

With recent developments, a time when you would simply have to scan a particular commodity, say, an apple, to get its weight, market price, nutritional value, freshness, number of seeds etc displayed directly on screen—in real time—is not away!

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