April 2, 2021, 11 a.m.
You may have heard about the terms Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality or Extended Reality, but have you ever wondered what the main differences are between these technologies?
Today we bring a definitive answer so that you will no longer confuse those terms.
Virtual Reality (VR) is one of the most common terms, made popular especially with the rise of new videogames tech (Playstation VR for instance).
VR indicates the creation of a virtually immersive experience: This can be a full 360° real-world content (video or image), a purely computer-generated one or a mix of both. This technology requires the use of a Head-Mounted Device (HMD) and external controllers to navigate within this world.
Augmented Reality (AR) is computer-generated content that is integrated in real-time on the real world. The notion to remember here is that the augmented content does not recognize the physical objects within a real-world environment. In other words, the CG content and the real-world content are not able to interact together.
One example can be using a smartphone to scan a word or sentence to translate in real-time via an app. The camera will identify the environment and put translated words on screen, but those will not be able to interact with the environment beyond what the camera captures.
Translated text cannot interact nor interfere with the table or paper on this example
Social media like Snapchat, Instagram or TikTok are also more and more keen on using such tech for entertainment: it is for instance possible to place digital animals or objects on a table or any furniture in the room through the smartphone camera.
As it is possible to interact with CG content (size, placement in space, etc.), AR tech however generally falls short as such content is only anchored to the camera view: the render is just placed virtually but can not for example disappear or be covered by real-life object which could come between it and the camera.
Mixed Reality, however, can do that.
Mixed Reality (MR) goes further and adds occlusion between real and virtual objects. "Occlusion" means that CG objects can be visibly affected by something in the physical environment.
As the user can interact with virtual elements like they would in the real world, a CG object will move closer when the person approaches it. Interactions are very much possible, such as turning an object using gestures.
How does MR work? A compatible device, like a headset or glasses, is necessary to create the experience. Using a lot more processing power than VR or AR, MR technology bases its interaction with gaze/gesture/voice recognition technology through a headset or a pair of motion controllers.
The Extended Reality (XR) notion is the easiest of all: it refers to all types of computer-generated immersive environments which combine both physical and virtual worlds.
Alternatively, the 'X' is simply a variable that can stand for any letter; in this case: Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR).
In conclusion, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality are not interchangeable terms.
The general distinction is:
PhotonLens is an XR smartglasses company changing the way people work, play, and experience the world. Stay tuned for more updates and news on the AR/VR/MR industry!