The difference between AR, VR, and MR, and why should you care?

Nowadays Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are used in gaming, industrial, defense, medical and other applications as much as never before. So, I guess you would want to finally know what this fuss is all about. 

What exactly makes up AR, VR, and MR?

AR stands for Augmented Reality. That is a kind of technology that captures a real-life image using sensors like a camera and then displays it to you along with digitally enhanced elements. Probably the most well-known application of such technology is a 2016 game Pokémon Go. As you probably know, in that game a Pokémon might appear anywhere – in the street, in the bush or even in your bathroom. Your phone captures a view of the current environment, adds a creature to it and displays it back to you effectively resulting in AR.

What exactly makes up AR, VR, and MR?
Source: androidauthority.com

VR – Virtual Reality. It does not need any input from the environment, as it renders your new environment completely. A user is required to have a certain type of gear like Google Cardboard. It renders your new reality, it is displayed directly to your eyes, creating an immersion effect, where you feel like in a whole different place. VR devices track your movement by using accelerometer, compass and sometimes even GPS signal, so whenever you move in the physical world, your movement is projected into the virtual one.

virtual reality
Source: amazon.com

MR is an abbreviation for Mixed Reality. As the name implies, it is the best of both previously mentioned technologies. It captures sight from the real-world, augments it to a defined degree and projects it to your eyes via a special gear. One of the examples is Microsoft HoloLens. MR has a few notable benefits over AR and VR. It does fully immerse you into the experience as VR does, but it also tracks the physical world around you like AR, so you are significantly less likely to bump into a wall or an edge of your bed.

Mixed Reality
Source: microsoft.com

Applications and importance of these technologies?

“So what? Apart from gaming, why should I care?” you might ask. Well, I am about to tell you.

Augmented Reality
  • AR might be used to create a fun, engaging and interactive ad that would increase sales as well as make the brand more known.
  • AR is used in various factories to help detect errors by for example overlapping red color over defective products. This technology greatly increases productivity, therefore, making products cheaper.
  • AR is widely used in fighter planes to display data the pilots need most frequently on their windshield enabling them to keep track of certain devices while keeping focused on their target, therefore making the flight safer.
Augmented Reality
Source: pinterest.com
Virtual reality
  • VR has great potential in revolutionizing education systems all over the world. As you can imagine, being fully immersed in, let’s say a WW2 D-Day battle would be significantly more interesting than reading about it in History books. It also applies to businesses in the training of their staff. The training itself would become quicker and more effective.
  • VR might be useful in the real estate business. Imagine buying a house on the other side of the world. Nobody wants to travel that far just to take a look. But no one wants to risk buying a poor-quality building. So, I believe it would make sense to just put your VR gear and get a tour instantly.
  • VR is also becoming more popular among various household inventory manufacturers like IKEA. Using VR, a customer can try out many different items and choose very accurately which one fits or just looks best without even having to step through the door.

MR, as was mentioned before, has the potential to take the best of both these technologies, while making the experience extremely realistic and very safe at the same time. The only downside might be a quite expensive gear, as Microsoft HoloLens 2 might cost you up to $5,000. But despite that, it is truly amazing technology.

So, lets briefly sum it up.

VR – full virtual reality completely rendered by your device.

AR – virtual images overlapped on a real-life sight.

MR – a mix of best qualities of these technologies. A king of virtual reality that uses the physical world as a base for all the enhancements.

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