What Are The Differences Between VR, AR, MR, and XR?
In the last few years, there has been a lot of confusion between the various types of Virtual Realities, so many people are unable to differentiate between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Extended Reality, and Mixed Reality. While others feel they all offer the same experience to the user.
However, there is a lot of difference between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Extended Reality, and Mixed Reality and they are outlined in detail below.
Virtual reality (VR)
Virtual Reality is a computer-simulated reality which may mimic or not mimic features of the real world but stimulates an everyday setting e.g., the normal road traffic on the streets and or, physical reality where physical laws that apply to gravity, time and materials may no longer hold.
Features of a VR Experience
- Interactivity: Interactivity is important in a virtual reality experience to offer users enough access and comfort to interact with the virtual environment naturally. Once there is a quick response to a user’s action in an easy and most natural manner, the excitement during the immersion will be sustained. However, if the virtual environment cannot offer a quick response, the human brain will quickly notice this inadequacy and the sense of immersion, as well as the excitement it brings, will reduce.
- Immersion: This is a process of being physically present in a world that is the non-physical world. It transcends the sense of presence which is a point which the brain believes to be in a particular place which is not and this is achieved through a complete mental or physical method. The state of a total immersion occurs when sufficient senses are stimulated to develop a sense of being present in a non-physical world.
- Virtual World: A virtual world is an ideal but created environment that is achieved through a process (i.e., rendering, display, etc.) where users can interact with others and create objects as part of that interaction. Visual perspectives respond to movement changes in a virtual environment and communications take place like it would in the real world.
- Sensory Feedback: Virtual reality needs all the senses for its simulation. The senses include vision, hearing, touching and many more. Proper stimulation of these senses would require sensory feedback which can be gotten through programmed inputs.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Even though VR creates an immersive, computer-generated environment to look like an everyday setting, with the additions of graphics, sounds, the smell of the natural world as well as haptic feedback, augmented reality brings us a step closer to the real world. Augmented reality is now used in the development of cell phones and video games. Anyone, ranging from soldiers to tourists can benefit from this technology.
Augment reality is already changing the way we see the world and the way we live. With Augment-reality displays which look like a normal pair of glasses and good audio, you can view informative graphics which will appear in your field of view.
The idea behind the concept is to super-impose audio and graphics over a real-world in real time. Although, television networks have been doing that for years, however, the concept of augmented reality is more advanced.
There are four types of augmented reality today
- Markerless AR: Also known as image recognition, it could be anything like a printed QR code. To position the content, the AR device measures the position and the orientation of the marker. This way, for users view, a marker can initiate digital animations, thereby turning magazine images into a 3D model.
- Marker-based AR: This is called a position-based augmented reality which requires a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a GPS to provide information based on the user’s location. This information determines what AR content you find in a certain area. With smartphones, this type of AR produces directions and information about local areas or business info.
- Projection-based AR: This type of AR allows for some level of interaction. An example is a hologram we see in scientific-fictional movies. It projects artificial lights on physical surfaces, and it detects users’ interactions through its projected alterations.
- Superimposition-based AR: This takes the place of the full view entirely or partially. An example is the IKEA catalog app which enables users to super-impose virtual items of their furniture catalog in their homes.
Mixed Reality (MR)
This is a concept of mixing the physical world into the digital world. Mixed reality system is the next evolution in unlocking possibilities of the future, which presently are locked in or restricted to our imagination. This concept is made possible through enhancements of the computer vision, input system, and display technology. The term was introduced by Paul Milgram in 1994 and Fumio Kushinio.
Its application goes beyond and can be found in areas such as spatial sound, location and environment input. Two types of devices which offer Mixed Reality Experience are:
- Holographic devices. This is the ability of the device to blend digital content with the real world to make it seem as if it is there.
- Immersive devices. This is the ability of the device to hide the physical world and replace it with the digital content.
Extended Reality (XR)
This is a new addition to the technical world. Presently many people are still unaware of the XR. Extended reality has to do with all virtual-and-real-human-machine-environments combined interaction created by computer technology and wearable gadgets.
It includes all its predecessors such as the Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR). This means that it can be viewed as an umbrella which combines all the three realities. Thus, it produces a more advanced level of each type of reality.
According to Milgram, it covers everything which has to do with “the complete real” to “the complete virtual.
In a nutshell, it is the sensory input by computers to advance the normal reality experience by building multiple dimensions which will result into sensory inputs that excite our senses in a more heightened level than normal.
Finally, while Virtual Reality is a computer-simulated reality which may mimic or not mimic features of the real world but stimulates an everyday setting, augmented reality brings us a step closer to the real world. Mixed Reality is a concept of mixing the physical world into the digital world, it is the next evolution in unlocking possibilities of the future, which presently are locked in or restricted to our imagination while Extended Reality brings all three together under one umbrella.