Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Explained

Different but the same... 

Understanding XR Technologies

Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Explained.

Nowadays, it's tough to keep up with the latest technological advancements; not to mention, the ever-growing list of acronyms used to describe them. Surely you've heard of VR, MR, AR, and perhaps even XR...

But, what do all of these acronyms actually mean?  

Let's take a look at these acronyms together to get to the bottom of these core concepts. Ready?

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality refers to immersive technology simulated by a computer used to produce an experience in which you are fully detached from the real world. To experience VR, you must wear a VR headset and use controllers or specialized VR wearables to interact with the computer-generated reality you're immersed in. When it comes to Virtual Reality, it's important to note that the VR headset blocks out your real-world environment altogether. Furthermore, given the multimodal nature of VR technology, the sounds, visuals, and sensations felt are as real to your IRL experience as it gets! Whether you create an imaginary fairytale land to explore or wander about a realistic city scene, Virtual Reality allows for a fully-immersed experienced of any virtual realm.    


Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality is a virtual layer applied using various devices such as mobile phones, designed to filter, alter, or augment your physical real-world environment and experience. Although AR is also computer-generated, it differs from VR in that it does not block out your real-world environment. Instead, Augmented Reality adds to your reality using various sensory inputs such as graphics, video, sound, and more. For example, Snapchat Filters and Lenses are considered AR, as is the increasingly popular Niantic Pok矇mon GO mobile application.


Mixed Reality (MR)

Finally, Mixed Reality is a combination of both Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies. Although Mixed Reality involves specialized MR hardware, unlike in VR, MR headsets do not block out the real-world environment. In fact, Mixed Reality allows you to manipulate and interact with both at the same time. In other words, MR leverages both technologies to empower people to merge real-world elements to virtual worlds to create immersive spaces that allow physical and digital elements to interact with one another in real-time.

Alright... So what's the deal with XR?

Extended Reality (XR) is an inclusive term used to refer to all immersive real-and-virtual environments enhanced by human-machine interaction, computer-generated input, as well as specialized devices and hardware. In short, XR is an umbrella term used to describe the various computer-human-altered realities created using Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality.

And, what about Spatial Computing?

Now, we won't get into that concept here, but we do have an article that you just might enjoy reading: Spatial Computing 101. Happy reading!