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Mixed reality, Virtual reality, Augmented reality: Know the differences


March 1st, 2024 09:28

The barrier separating the real world from the virtual one is gradually breaking into opening up magnificent experiences, some things that, until a while ago, could only be imagined by science fiction writers. To anybody new to this world of immersive technology, the first question is the difference between augmented reality (AR) from virtual reality (VR). Above this, there are also terms like mixed reality (MR).

The word "virtual reality" (VR) is frequently used as a catch-all for all immersive experiences, including numerous closely related terminology like augmented reality and mixed reality. Mixed reality (MR) is a relatively new technology that frequently causes some confusion in the immersive world. MR is the most immersive and engaging fusion of the physical and digital worlds.

Let us start at the beginning of the virtual world and then trace how it expanded over time. 

First to come was Virtual Reality

VR is where it all began. Science fiction authors, creators, and tinkerers began to imagine a world where you might use art and technology to escape reality as early as the 1930s. However, Jaron Lanier, the founder of VPL Research, first coined the phrase "virtual reality" in the middle of the 1980s when he started creating the equipment, such as goggles and gloves, required to experience what he dubbed "virtual reality."

Simply put, VR is a 100% immersive tech that deceives your senses into believing you're in a setting or world other than the real one. When connected to a console or PC, you'll use a head-mounted display (HMD) or headset to enter a virtual world of noises and images where you may move about and interact with objects.

Then entered Augmented Reality

The basic idea behind augmented reality is to enhance the reality we now experience rather than replace it. Hence, whereas VR will isolate you from your surroundings, AR will use your mobile device to insert digital items into your environment. Think of it as layering new strata of perception that supplement your reality. 

One of the most popular examples of AR is Pokemon Go or using Snapchat filters. 

Beyond entertainment and games, augmented reality has numerous other applications. Healthcare, aviation, the auto industry, and other sectors are investigating how augmented reality can enhance operations. IKEA, a retailer, offers an augmented reality app that lets customers place virtual furniture in their living areas to see how it would look in their homes. A similar feature is also included in Amazon when buying furniture online. 

Thanks to augmented reality, pilots may view flight data projected in their line of sight from their helmets. Medical personnel can model ailments in a hospital setting using AR diagnostic tools.

So then, What is Mixed Reality??

In Mixed Reality, the real-world elements meet digital elements. You can interact with and control real-world and virtual objects and surroundings in mixed reality using cutting-edge sensing and imaging technology.

Mixed reality enables you to see and become fully immersed in the world around you while interacting with a virtual environment with your hands. It allows you to have one foot (or writing) in the actual world and the other in an imaginary setting, bridging the gap between the real and the imagined and providing an experience that might alter how you work and play now.

Microsoft's HoloLens, Lenovo Explorer, Samsung Odyssey, and Acer Windows Mixed Reality are just a few businesses developing mixed reality technologies.

How are AR and MR different?

A user's vision of the real world is supplemented with computer-generated pictures called augmented reality. In contrast, mixed reality is an improved version of augmented reality that combines the best features. Virtual reality and augmented reality are a part of the fairly new field of mixed reality to develop new habitats and visualizations where things from the real world and the virtual world can coexist and interact in real time; the real world and the virtual world are combined.

So, in Summary,

-VR takes the users into a completely different digital environment

-AR creates a layer of virtual items upon the natural world around us

-MR, along with layering, also anchors the virtual items in the real world, allowing interaction with both worlds simultaneously. 


One might wonder that since MR has incorporated both VR and AR, have we hit the zenith of the immersive technology revolution? One step forward is a technology that combines virtual, augmented, and mixed worlds into a single system that a user may move between based on use cases.

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