Reality technologies like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are growing quickly with all the latest advancements in the industry. For example:
*Apple allows millions of iPhone and iPad owners to experience augmented reality (AR) through apps like Google Maps and Pokemon go.
*Facebook is bringing Virtual reality to its platform with their new VR world Horizon
*Microsoft is using mixed reality (MR) to combine virtual objects with the real world
To help you have a clear understanding of the differences between VR, AR, and MR, we've written this guide to explain what reality technologies are and how businesses can benefit from them.
Virtual Reality - is an artificial digital environment that completely replaces the real world. Users experience artificial sounds and sights and feel as if they’re in a digital world. Imagine opening your eyes and seeing a computer-generated world all around you; you can move in this environment and even interact with it. That’s what virtual reality is like.
Special VR headsets are used to immerse users in virtual reality. There are two main types of VR headsets:
*PC-connected headsets - As their name suggests, these VR headsets are connected to a computer (or a gaming console) that generates high-quality virtual experiences. The processing power of modern computers is huge, so they can generate realistic and persuasive digital worlds.
*Standalone headsets - Standalone
headsets don't need to be connected to a computer or console. Most standalone
VR headsets use a smartphone screen to provide the virtual reality
experience. What’s the first industry you think of when you hear the term
virtual reality? It’s probably gaming, but this isn’t the only field where virtual
reality technology can be used. You will see it in Education, Real
Estate, Healthcare, Marketing and even Travel.
Augmented Reality - is the overlay of digital content on the real-world environment. Virtual objects can be in various forms: images, videos, or interactive data. In other words, if you see the real world supplemented with digital objects, that’s AR. Imagine you want to buy a piece of furniture – a chair, for example. Augmented reality technology can help you check how different chairs will look in your room and pick the one that fits best.
There are two ways to enjoy the AR experience:
AR is the most accessible reality technology, as people can use their smartphones or tablets to run AR applications. AR apps use a phone camera to capture the real world; virtual objects are then overlaid, and users can see them on their smartphone screen. That’s how common AR apps work, the best example being Pokemon Go. Millions of people have used their smartphones to play this game and catch virtual Pokemon that they can only see on their smartphone screens.
Smart glasses and AR headsets
Another way to create AR experiences is to use special smart glasses or headsets. Unlike VR headsets, these AR glasses and headsets don’t immerse users into a fully virtual environment but just add digital objects to the real world by projecting objects right in front of the user’s eyes.
As with VR, the first industry we think of that uses AR is gaming. Augmented Reality, in fact, proves useful in a variety of businesses, such as advertising, Manufacturing, Retail shopping, and navigation, such as Google Maps.
Mixed Reality – Now that you know the difference between VR and AR, it’s time to take a closer look at MR. In mixed reality (sometimes called hybrid reality), virtual content is not only overlaid on the real environment (as in AR) but is anchored to and interacts with that environment.
Put simply, in mixed reality you can see virtual objects just like you can in augmented reality, but these objects can also interact with the real world. In a sense, mixed reality is a more immersive and interactive type of augmented reality.
There can be, however, a different form of mixed reality – when users see and interact with a completely virtual environment overlaid on the real world around them. If this sounds confusing, think about it this way: imagine you’re interacting with a completely digital environment but you’re still in your room. What if you trip over a physical object in your room? To avoid this problem, a headset must be able to track the real world and adjust the virtual environment accordingly. This kind of mixed reality is closer to VR than AR; in fact, some VR headsets have sensors to track the physical environment too.
Needless to say, different types of devices are required to experience these two forms of mixed reality:
*Holographic devices - These headsets have translucent glasses that allow you to perfectly see your surroundings. Virtual experiences are created with the help of holograms.
*Immersive devices -These headsets have non-translucent displays that completely block out the real world (just like VR headsets) and use cameras for tracking.
Read any science fiction novel and you’ll almost certainly come across a holographic communication device. Well, mixed reality takes human civilization one step closer to the future described in science fiction. So, what industries can Mixed Reality be used in? There are several industries with a huge potential for MR such as Communications, Education and Manufacturing.