Key Differences Between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality

AR VR MR mobile app development

Now that we are seeing unprecedented growth in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies as well as Mixed Realty (MR), the confusions between them have also surfaced. Many people are not able to make clear differences between these technologies.

On the other hand, they are today’s highly immersive technologies and, in many instances, they are also used together in a single application. They both integrate virtual and real-world elements together. They appear similar in several instances, but then they differ from one another in other instances.

This blog helps you make clear-cut differences between VR, AR, and MR.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality completely immerses users in a computer-generated environment. Virtual Reality (VR) is one of the well known and oldest forms of immersive technology. Early adopters of VR were from the gaming and entertainment industries. Now, the technology is being adopted by many organizations across different industries, like engineering, construction, healthcare, education, and business. Even militaries of different nations are using Virtual Reality technology.

To use a virtual reality application, users need to use a head-mounted display or VR headset. The content for VR is designed in a way, which when watched through a VR-headset, makes users feel that they are the part of that virtual world. The content can either be simply a video or a full-fledge application.

For large sized applications, a VR set is connected with a PC. This sort of apps can be an engineering application designed to provide employees with training or high-quality gaming that demands a user’s total involvement including walking and running on a platform purposely designed to complement a VR experience.

For small sized applications, a VR set, like Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, or Google Dream, can be connected with a smartphone. A mobile focused VR app is generally a gaming app or video app. However, a smartphone is required to have VR experience from these devices, but Oculus Go is the VR device that provides standalone VR experience to users.

Virtual reality tools already help surgeons plan surgery, individuals experience a travel destination even before they take flight, children learn in a simulated (but very real) walk on the moon and soldiers train for combat scenarios, but the future will be full of even more VR applications as businesses of all kinds figure out ways the technology can enhance operations.

Augmented Reality (AR)

The most popular example of an AR app that the whole world saw was Pokémon GO. People just went crazy for this mobile game. The app overlays digital information on the real world. A AR app doesn’t provide full immersive experience; rather, it enhances the real world with images, text or other sort of virtual information.

Today, AR applications are turning out to be more useful than just merely being a gaming or entertainment app. Take the example of IKEA’s app that allows customers to augment the virtual versions of IKEA-manufactured furniture and assure themselves if these items will fit in their spaces or not. The app helps customers make better purchase decisions, satisfy them and minimize the chance of product return.

Similar to IKEA, companies in aviation, automotive, healthcare, travel and tourism, and more are developing augmented reality solutions. Augmented reality technology can enhance travelers’ experiences in many ways. Imagine being on a self-guided walking tour and wanting to know details about the architecture of a building you discover. With an augmented reality technology app, you could just point your phone at the building, and all the details are projected in your line of sight.

Tech titans like Apple and Google have already contributed technologies such as ARKit and ARCore that help developers swiftly design AR based mobile apps.

Mixed Reality (MR)

Now, where does Mixed Reality fit in on the spectrum of immersive technologies? A mixed-reality environment goes a step further of augmented reality because it allows users to interact in real-time with virtual objects that are projected within the real world. These virtual items will also respond and react to users as if they were actual objects.

There is a different headset available to have the experience of Mixed Reality (MR). An MR headset provides a holographic experience through translucent glasses or an immersive experience. Microsoft HoleLense is one of most popular examples of MR headset. Other examples include Acer Windows Mixed Reality and Lenovo Explorer and Samsung Odyssey.

MR is way advanced than AR and VR because it can identify gesture, gaze, and voice with the pair of motion controllers or through the MR headset that helps deliver a believable mixed-reality experience.

Also, because it’s a youngest technology, there isn’t sufficient awareness about it and only a few of the world’s leading companies are investing in mixed realty application development projects.

Put simply, the difference between virtual, augmented, and mixed reality is:

  • Virtual reality (VR): It provides a completely immersive experience where a user leaves the real-world environment behind to enter a completely digital environment via VR headsets.
  • Augmented reality (AR): It provides an experience where virtual objects are superimposed onto the real-world environment via smartphones, tablets, heads-up displays, or AR glasses.
  • Mixed reality (MR): It provides an experience which a step beyond augmented reality where the virtual objects placed in the real world and can be interacted with and responded just like real objects.

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