The Difference Between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality

Google Cardboard is a simple, inexpensive VR headset that was released back in 2014 because all the headgear for this kind of computing was really costly, difficult to use and required loads of computing power. Since then, this community of interoping computer generated graphics into the real world has skyrocketed. These terms have started being thrown around more and more but a lot of people misplace these words and mix things up. There’s a lot of confusion between these similar sounding expressions and to an extent, they are. But there are a few fundamental differences between them as well. I aim to tackle this problem of confusion in this post.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality or AR for short is possibly the easiest thing to explain to young people because most of them would have used it in a really popular app – Pokemon Go. It’s an example of an AR game where the live feed taken from the camera is overlaid with pictures or animations. Apple has been pushing forward with their latest chip which is arguably the most powerful in the world, the A11 Bionic. Their latest advancements were recently showcased in their WWDC 2018 event where they announced their ARKit 2 alongside a really impressive demo which was a multiplayer game of shooting balls from a slingshot at the player opposite to you. It’s called SwiftShot and is considered to be a great advance forward.

Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality a.k.a. MR is kind of like AR. It’s also built on top of the data produced by the camera input but it goes one step forward and makes real life objects interactive. That’s right, we’re getting into Iron Man stuff now. This is the most difficult to accomplish even with lots of computing power because it’s extremely difficult to make software adapt to the real world surroundings and optimise itself for it. The most famous and possible the one that’s light years ahead of everyone else is Microsoft’s Hololens which is basically just a visor that will allow you to view the currently environment that you’re in but will also let you interact with it through software. An example would be the Minecraft prototype game where you can be sat on the ground near your couches and table and the world that’s generated in the world would configure the hills and mountains to be built around the physical furniture.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality or more commonly known as VR is the most popular type to simulated reality technology right now. It’s the one where you wear a headset on your face with a pair of special lenses that converge light rays into a screen that makes it seem like you’re facing a virtual world. Couple that the movement of your head making the in-game camera move around too and you get an eerie experience of being teleported to another world.

VR is not only limited to gaming as 360 videos have also become popular. In fact, if you go on YouTube right now you can search for 360-degree videos and you can get complete videos where you can see more than just one aspect of the camera because the device that was used to shoot the video captures frames in all the directions. You can move the camera around and the video changes views to the relative camera so smoothly that it feels like it was the same camera that shifted the shooting position.

The Difference Between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality


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