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Augmented, Virtual, Mixed — a brief guide to the new realities

date: 26 September 2017
reading time: 3 min

Have you ever thought about how Virtual Reality differs from Augmented Reality, and what does Mixed Reality have to do with it all?

The VR market is set to grow exponentially in the next few years. According to Statista, the market value of virtual reality in the UK is predicted to grow to £354.3 million in 2020. For comparison – in 2016, the market was worth ‘only’ £46.4 million.

No wonder, as this innovative technology has opened a completely new world of opportunities across the sectors. From retail, education, medicine to engineering, the technology has allowed us to present features of a product, teach people new skills, treat phobias in patients and train employees in operating industrial machinery.

What is the difference between VR, AR and MR?

The Virtual Reality (VR)

VR is virtual indeed. With use of a headset, you are immersed in a 360-degree view of a brand new three-dimensional environment. The idea is to convince you, as a user, that you have entered a completely different world, which is why the physical world you’re in is blocked out, often in terms of not only views, but also sounds. The VR is therefore perfect for gaming, movies, treatment of phobias and immersive training.

The Augmented Reality (AR)

Instead of removing you completely from the real world, augmented reality incorporates virtual content, like 3D graphics, or overlays onto your current view of the world. The content may provide you with visual cues to what surrounds you. AR works well for instructions or information, for instance where you see a real-life machine and need to know how it works.

The Mixed Reality (MR)

MR has been labelled by Wired as the cousin of AR.  While the terminology is yet to be agreed upon in the industry*, it is worth knowing what hides behind the term. Mixed Reality attempts to combine the best of the two – the AR and the VR, making use of real world with a virtual overlay that you can interact with as a user. Whatever it’s called, it has an amazing potential in such fields as engineering, construction and architecture, education and training, advertising and marketing, among many others.

To find out more about the opportunities that have opened up for us, watch the following videos by Meta, Magic Leap, and Microsoft.

The technologies are developing rapidly and they will, without doubt, soon become part of our day-to-day lives. The only constraint is our imagination. Have you already thought about how you could introduce VR or AR into your live: at home, or at your workplace?

*Meta calls interactive content AR, while Microsoft and Magic Leap use the term MR.
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