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Extended reality (XR) encompasses immersive digital technologies enveloping users in interactive, virtual environments simulating physical spaces realistically. It encompasses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and everything in between that immerses perceptions to generate transformative human-computer experiences.

Whether wearing headsets transporting sight and sound into virtual worlds or seeing contextual digital content layered atop real-world views through an AR smartphone lens, XR marks a seismic shift making technology experiential versus merely visible. It promises to revolutionize communication, entertainment, design, manufacturing, healthcare, education and potentially all digital interaction.

On a fundamental level, XR leverages cameras, sensors, displays and tracking equipment to map physical environments and overlay or embed life-like 3D visuals, dynamic data, sounds and even touch feedback digitally upon the identified area. Users step inside virtual simulations perceptually indistinguishable from reality with freedom to move naturally viewing generated imagery mapped spatially across fields of vision.

Sophisticated programming anchors virtual elements like intricate structures, illusory characters or informational labels to fixed locations in rooms as tracked by internal accelerometers and depth sensors even as users walk around exploring each creatively enhanced setting in motion. Spatial computing merges digital creations with authentic spaces vividly.

While VR headsets fully surround senses to transplant users elsewhere virtually, AR hardware like smart glasses overlays context-relevant graphics and data visualizations atop still-visible current locations without losing physical context. MR production platforms also empower collaborative 3D design or training simulations using hybrid real/virtual capabilities.

As headset comfort, mobility and graphical resolutions ascend over coming years, XR adoption promises to scale bringing remote teams together via advanced presence technology, architects iterating 3D models interactively, doctors tapping digital twins during procedures, factories troubleshooting equipment overlaid with live operational guidance, interactive lessons spurring student engagement and exhilarating gaming reaching new levels of adventure and connection.