This first course in the XR for Everybody specialization creates a foundational understanding of the differences between AR, VR, MR, and XR. The course provides learners with a broad overview of the rapidly evolving XR space and the tools to characterize future XR developments and assess their potential and limitations. It establishes key concepts and dives into the XR device landscape, helping learners to differentiate current and future platforms and devices as well as critique the use of VR or AR in applications. The course pivots in the second half to look more at how to shape the future of XR, by analyzing trends and raising issues such as COVID-19, social and ethical concerns, accessibility and equity, as well as privacy and security.
The course comes with an honors track in which learners will try out and classify existing XR applications, pick technologies when designing solutions for various XR application scenarios, and dive into the issues contributing to the larger discussion around trends and the future of XR.
XR Terminology & Applications
This module will establish the different notions around XR and provide a brief overview of the associated technologies. Key to understanding the potential and limitations of AR, VR, and MR is to know the differences in how they each work and what they each can be used for. In the honors track, you will learn how to find and try out an AR experience and classify it along the reality–virtuality continuum. This continuum is an important notion to localize applications in the wide spectrum covered by mixed reality technologies and aids our overall understanding of the XR space.
XR Concepts & Technologies
This module will provide an overview of virtual and augmented reality both at the conceptual level as well as in terms of current technologies. It is important to distinguish concepts from technologies because the concepts are foundational and less likely to change significantly while the technologies that implement the concepts are rapidly evolving. In the honors track, we will use the conceptual and technological insights we developed through the standard track to recommend AR or VR technologies for a set of given scenarios. A key goal for us is to obtain a thorough overview of the technology landscape and this activity will allow you to practice your decision making and how to analyze and assess different technology options.
Trends & Issues in XR
This module will start our discussion of the opportunities and challenges that come with XR technologies. I will identify technological trends and what I think are some of the key issues. The issues will be grouped into three broader classes: ethical & social concerns, accessibility & equity, privacy & security. All three classes are important and we currently only have a limited understanding and clear ways forward regarding each of them. In the honors track, we will work through some of these issues and, depending on your interests and access to XR technologies, you can set your focus on one of the classes of issues. There will be activities to learn more about social experiences in AR/VR, accessibility, and privacy. I look forward to an open and constructive discussion with you about these issues and the future of XR technologies.
This is our last module in this course. It will bring more of a strategic outlook into the XR space. This is a space where you have to continuously learn and push yourself. I believe you have to develop a growth mindset when you think about new projects and initiatives, your team, the equipment, working with stakeholders, and defining measures of success. The key is to start somewhere, with something small, then grow your experience and expectations around it. Most people try it the other way around, not realizing that XR is a huge space and there will always be people who know more than you about something. In my opinion, the best way to go about this is to find a niche, realize the potential to innovate, and start shaping your solution. This module is heavily discussion-based and there is no honors track associated with it. Thank you for taking this first course, and please check out the other two courses in this series!