i3 | December 01, 2020

Best Practices for Promoting Diversity in XR

Alexandra Blasgen

CTA’s XR standards committee recently initiated a new project to document best practices for developing XR software and content that accurately and sensitively reflects an authentic, diverse world. “XR” is a generic term covering both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The goal of this work is to provide a reference for XR content creators, hardware manufacturers and software developers to understand how best to represent a diverse group of humans with varied skin tones, cultural backgrounds, physical capabilities, sexual orientation and identification.

CTA’s History of Inclusion

It was a CTA standard that memorialized how closed captions would work on all TVs in the U.S. The CTA standards for measuring performance of health, fitness and wellness devices include requirements that test subjects be balanced among different age groups, genders and other physical characteristics. And last year CTA published a new standard for helping people with little or no vision navigate public spaces. In short, making sure everyone’s needs are considered is top of mind when CTA develops standards.

Beyond standards, CTA is advancing diversity and inclusion throughout the tech industry. It is investing $10 million in venture firms and funds focused on women, people of color and other underrepresented startups and entrepreneurs. It’s partnering with programs like EVERFI to help develop a diverse K-12 STEM pipeline, and is working with its member companies through its Diversity and Inclusion Working Group to highlight best practices that support a more diverse tech industry.

XR Technology and Standards

Film, television and computer images have historically had difficulty capturing the full range of human skin tones. The digital entertainment tools we have now, with larger color palettes and high dynamic range, can meet this challenge. XR presents a valuable opportunity to take this step and build a new, more inclusive world. This generation of new realities is the first to be widely available on a consumer level, making it important to establish new norms and embrace updated concepts around fair representation. The COVID-19 pandemic has served to increase the adoption of XR technologies to allow for remote interactions — not only for gaming but with staff, clients, patients and others.

Standards can serve as a convenient resource to educate developers on their options for expanding technology and content beyond the narrow confines of a monochrome world. CTA’s latest XR standards project, spearheaded by the XR industry, will document how developers can better help promote cultural respect, avoid stereotypes and reflect real-world diversity. There are subtle ways that bias can arise, often without the conscious realization on the part of the developer. Standards can help highlight the areas where change and improvement are possible.

“There’s a vital importance to foster symbiosis between inclusion and technology. Tech can only be its best if we work to increase representation, true access and equality,” said Alexandria Porter, CEO of MOD Tech Labs and chair of the working group, in a recent article. “Increasing inclusion is a key way to create a balanced and plentiful ecosystem.”

GO ONLINE: To join the working group, please contact Alexandra Blasgen at


Watch for updates on Digital Health Standards at CES 2021.

Subscribe to i3 Magazine

I3, the flagship magazine from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, focuses on innovation in technology, policy and business as well as the entrepreneurs, industry leaders and startups that grow the consumer technology industry. Subscriptions to i3 are available free to qualified participants in the consumer electronics industry.