How many realities do you know?

Posted by Andres Aguerrevere on

How many realities do you know?

In the recent years, and especially in the recent days we have been hearing a lot about this term; yet, what is it exactly? How can an electronic device change the meaning of something that has centuries and centuries established?

Lately, terms like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) have become really famous. There is a growing rush about them, as they seem to be one of the most important area in which developers are currently working.

However, these terms are not synonyms; even when they work in similar areas they all are specialized in different features. In case you are interested in discovering the difference among them and finding out which is the one you like the most.

First of all, Virtual Reality born and then both AR and MR came next as new options to improve the experience of perceiving virtual reality around you. What we cannot discuss is the fact that all of them are fascinating and all of us want to try at least once those brand new types of realities.

So, stop talking and let’s begin: What are they? How do they work? Where can we find them? Here we go…


Virtual Reality

It is a recent kind of technology that mixes the reality by the using of physical elements like headsets or multi-projected environments; physical environments are often part of this type of reality.

The main purpose of this giant idea is to create extremely realistic images, sound, and many other sensations aiming to make the user feel real presence in a virtual or imaginary ambiance.

As all the definition we have about reality is based on our senses and the information our brain gets from these senses; the function of VR is to create a 3D environment that can be explored and interacted by a person.

VR has multiple characteristics that highlight among other recent technologies; any user of virtual reality is capable of look around and what the person is going to see is a totally virtual environment. In some cases, stare is not the only thing the user can do, yet interacting with some features too.

An essential part in this type of virtual invention is the use of VR handsets as they help to create the effect. They are built with a small screen that is placed just in front of the eyes, headphones are also part of this devices. Some other cases are developed in rooms full filled with giant screens and involving sound so the headset tool is not required.

When we talked about some other sensations, we referred to stimulation like vibrations that are sent through haptic systems such as a game controller. In almost every case, virtual reality may try to seem very alike to real world; by doing this, they catch the attention of the user because he sees similar things around him and create lifelike experiences. Moreover, some other cases can be completely different, creating very new worlds and spaces that involve the user as part of this new location.

Equally, this technology has gained considerably ground; it is now designed not only for computers but smartphones and consoles too. Some of the features of this type of reality includes gyroscopes, motion sensors for tracking the user’s head, hands and body as well.

Some of the giants has invested in this brand new area; Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Sony all have team working in the development of VR software and hardware.

Even when we all may think that VR is only related with entertainment, we are absolutely wrong as it is very helpful in a wide list of areas such as: medical and clinical therapies, military and flying training, marketing, and many others.

Augmented Reality

An amplified version of reality wherein physical aspects of the environment in the real world are, of course, augmented and combined with artificially generated images, sound and sensations over a user’s portion of the real world. It is the combination between the ambient around the user with the insertion of non-real features that only the user can see.

Different from VR which requires to isolate the user from the real environment and creating a new a closed one; in AR your natural surrounding is used with virtual information inserted in it. In other words, in AR both real and artificial coexist to create what we know in these days.

Diverse devices can work with AR, from screens and monitors to smartphones and tablets. It is said that with all the growth this area is having, less tools are going to be needed to experience AR.

However, in the majority of devices wherein you can display AR you will rarely need something extra, neither cables nor desktop computers.

On the other hand, what they both VR and AR have in common is the variety of areas in which they are very helpful: healthcare, engineering, architecture, training and entertainment too. This last one is, by far, the most developed one.

Moreover, AR has different functioning ways. From Marker based AR, which uses a camera built-in the device to distinguish a certain type of code, commonly QR/2D that is activated when sensed by the reader. This code is always located in any other real object.

Also, the marker less AR is found too; it is specialized in GPS location as it uses the global position, velocity meter, compass and other tools embedded in the device in order to provide data based on your location. An internet connection or data is always required in this type of augmented reality as it needs the location to show the information.

In case you were wondering about a good example of Augmented Reality, do not forget the incredible rush that Pokémon Go caused in the entire world. Downloaded more than 3 million times and used all over the world, hundreds of people spread on the streets trying to catch some legendary Pokémon. Once again, this classy game proved how we can get along with AR with almost any effort.

Mixed Reality

As it name explains, it combines both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. The purpose of this invention is the allowance of creating new spaces wherein objects and people can interact with real and virtual scenarios.

All this process is commonly called as the mixed reality spectrum; having three main areas. On the left hand side is placed the physical reality in which human exists; while on the right hand, it is near digital reality wherein all the experience is based on digital features and the real environment is not included.

It is right in the middle part of this spectrum where the fully mixed reality actually exists, as it perfectly mixes both ends of the study. A pretty good example of this part is Jumanji, the movie; as viewers can recognize the structure of the house yet the plot is developed blended with the jungle environment.

The most common devices in which Mixed Reality occurs are very few, with Microsoft of top of the developers’ list. Holographic devices are characterized by having the ability to place totally digital content right into the real world, and more important, leading the user to feel as it is actually in there.

Microsoft’s Hololens seems to be the most acute device when trying to experience Mixed Reality environments. Nevertheless, some other important enterprises are already working on their very own tools to get into this fascinating technological branch.

In addition, immersive devices are able to create a perception of presence, it is made by hiding the physical world and using the digital one instead of the original.

An interesting point that has generated lots of debates in the recent years is the fact that certain people consider AR and MR as the same concept, like giving two names for the same definition, while some others admit that they are completely separated matters and they should not be confused.

Experts often describe MR as the way developers succeed when trying to express worlds that were only in our imagination. Without any doubt, all the advances in technology are the reason why mixed realities are now possible. However, there are not devices that can run experiences across the entire spectrum.

As you may know, all in this technological era seems to be better if done by internet, which may be the principal reason why VR, AR and MR developers have used Amazon as a selling channel  to sell their new services.

What we cannot discuss is the relevancy these type of inventions have gaining lately and it seems to be like this for many more time; with all that have been said, MR seems to be the furthest from fruition and the one that keeps in the spotlight day by day.

To sum up, no matter which one looks more interesting for you, there are something you need to try at least once as they are going to be everywhere in the very nearly future.


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