AR, VR, MR: generated realities – which one is which?

2018/ 16/04
Virtual, augmented, mixed reality - three terms that have become an important part of the tech world today. But what do they mean exactly? Today’s article helps you come to terms with all these concepts.

The boundaries between the virtual world and real life are beginning to blur, and with all the progress made in technology today, this trend will only increase. There are many things you could only imagine in the past – you can actually experience these now with AR and VR glasses. And besides the two relatively familiar solutions, another type of technology is beginning to break through: it is called Mixed Reality (MR). But what is there to know about these three types?

AR VR MR Régens

In a nutshell

Augmented Reality:

Expanded Reality (AR) is the extension of reality when a camera or glasses can be used to project virtual elements into the real environment. The technology is widely used by companies that make and sell furniture, but games are also made with this solution.

Virtual Reality:

Virtual Reality (VR) is an artificial world created by a computer environment. Its point is to make the technology generated experience more realistic and believable for users. It is most commonly used in computer games.

Mixed Reality:

Mixed Reality (MR) actually combines the augmented and virtual reality. Augmented reality is enriched with elements of virtual reality which do not only appear on the screen but can also interact with the real world. According to research, this solution is the most revolutionary and widely used among the three types.

Details and uses of the technologies

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is best known among the three technologies, which has gained its popularity (both worldwide and in Hungary) with the appearance of the game Pokémon Go! To experience and enjoy the opportunities provided by AR, all you need is a smartphone or a pair of AR glasses developed for this purpose. Using the phone’s camera, you can see the world around you, and then an augmented reality application can project virtual elements to your screen.

In a previous blog post, dedicated entirely to augmented reality, we have already presented a number of solutions based on this technology. We see a great deal of possibility in medicine and transport especially.

Augmented Reality - the most interesting solutions

The use of augmented reality in this way is still in the making, but it can be found in many other areas and makes everyday life either more simple, or just more fun (just think of games). One of our favorite solutions has been developed by IKEA: with the help of their application, you can put a variety of furniture they produce into your home virtually, so you can see on your smartphone how that sofa bed you’ve been thinking about would look like in your actual living room.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality may be familiar to most of you from video games or computer games. To experience VR, what you need is a set of VR glasses. If you have those, you can enjoy the look of another city from the comfort of your own home, and you can even walk virtually on the streets of the city. Nowadays, even a smartphone can be enough to experience it, as there are now "spectacles" that serve as a frame to which the phone can be fixed, and by downloading the right application, you can enjoy the VR experience. With this, you can find yourself in another reality, and you can also interact with this reality. Most of these virtual reality applications already work with sound as well to make the experience even more complete.

Of course, VR's most popular application is games, but there is no end to the number of solutions available in the technology; and in addition to games, many useful opportunities have been developed and are still developed today.

Virtual reality could also be used well in traffic – instead of real roads, you could practice driving in a virtual world before taking your driving exam. But besides cars, you can also learn to drive an airplane, or you may get traveling experiences that you could only dream of so far.

Technology can also be used in education (since nothing limits creativity in the virtual space) and medicine. In an experiment, a man who had become paralysed from the waist down could move his legs again – thanks to VR therapy. There is still a lot of time and work ahead of him until complete recovery, the technology has given him hope.

Mixed reality

The MR is actually an extension of augmented reality, as this technology is also based on reality surrounding us, and like AR, virtual objects appear on the screen. The significant difference between the two solutions, however, is that in mixed reality, virtual objects are much more part of the perceived reality; moreover, the user can also interact with these objects.

When applying this technology, developers can decide how much of the actual, real world and how many virtual elements appear on the screen. But since everything looks very similar on the screen, you can actually say that this technology has brought what many have expected and many feared: the boundary between reality and imagination is blurring. At Régens we believe that this is actually a good thing for humanity, as there are many things MR can help us achieve.

Nowadays, two big companies dominate the market of mixed reality, who use glasses to introduce you into the generated worlds. Microsoft has developed HoloLens, which allows you to interact with holograms projected onto reality. The other leading product, which has not entered the market yet, is the Magic Leap, which is a very exciting solution: the glasses can project the created image directly into your eyes, thus making the virtual element more realistic. This has become one of our favourites among MR solutions – we are looking forward to trying it for real.

Of course, similarly to AR and VR, the use of the technology of MR also begins at the gaming industry, as this is the most widespread and "innocent" platform where you can experiment with opportunities. However, this is just the beginning.

Imagine a world where mixed reality can be used to perform life-saving surgeries, or where you can handle your affairs in virtual bank branches where a hologram helps you manage your finances. The number of options is infinite, and it is no coincidence that mixed reality is considered to be one of the greatest breakthroughs of our time.

Source: Toptal, Foundry, Forbes