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Introduction to XR: VR, AR, and MR Foundations

Unity via Coursera

This course may be unavailable.


What is XR? It’s shorthand for a related set of new technologies that are changing the way we interact with the world and with each other: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality.

To understand XR, you need to understand the technologies that enable it. If you understand the available technologies, how they are used, and what their future holds, you’ll be well equipped to deal with XR as it rapidly evolves and converges.

In this course, we will present an introduction to XR using a broadly chronological approach, focusing on how all of the underlying technologies came together at key moments in the history of XR to launch the concepts of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality into the mainstream consciousness. Throughout the course, we’ll give a brief description of each of the supporting technologies, some history about when it first came into use, limitations and future potential for improvement, and how it’s used for AR, VR, and MR.

As you learn about the technology, you’ll also develop hands on experience in the field along two tracks. First, you will use Unity to build and run two simple XR applications on your own smartphone: a “VR Museum” app and a handheld Augmented Reality app. Second, you will brainstorm, define, visualize, and iterate your own original concept for an XR application, ending the course with a thorough and peer-reviewed XR Product Brief that you could use as the basis for future development.

This is the first of three planned courses in Unity's XR Specialization, which include the Mobile VR App Development with Unity course as well as a future course focused on developing Augmented Reality (AR) applications with Unity.


  • All Aboard - How Google Cardboard Brought VR to the Masses
    • The first module looks at the technologies that allowed Google to launch the now famous New York Times Google Cardboard experience and help make Virtual Reality a household name. We will also highlight how it also democratized VR development with the release of the SDK for Unity.
  • From Google Cardboard to Google Earth VR
    • In this module we will look at the explosion of VR related developments that have taken place since that time, with a focus on how Unity native support for VR features has rapidly evolved along with them.
  • Get Ready, Get Set, Pokemon GO!
    • In this module, we'll examine the technologies that led to another key moment in the history of XR—Pokemon GO—which brought Augmented Reality to the masses and made it a mainstream concept. We will highlight the technologies that AR and MR share in common with VR, and also cover additional technologies that only AR and MR use, and discuss the various AR and MR frameworks available for working with AR in Unity.
  • My Implants Don’t Distinguish Between Realities
    • This final module will look at the future of XR with a focus on technologies now in development that will be available in the near term, such as foveated rendering and ultra high resolution headset displays. We’ll also look at the future of Unity support for XR, and we’ll talk about the convergence of different branches of XR as technology allows products to be made that blur the distinctions.

Taught by

Unity Technologies and Peter Patterson


4.2 rating at Coursera based on 183 ratings

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