Different software and hardware companies are betting on solutions of augmented reality, virtual reality or mixed reality. As there are three types of completely different realities, this can be confusing. Today we will explain the differences between them to avoid confusing them, since they have many similarities.
As a summary we could say that virtual reality generates completely non-existent worlds, augmented reality combines non-existent elements with others that are there, and the mixed is a mixture between both. However, we will go into further detail explaining in detail how each of them works
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality (Usually abbreviated as VR) differs from the rest by being the type in which you immerse yourself completely in a virtual world. This means that it allows you to simulate a complete sensorial experience with an artificial environment without you seeing anything of what is on the outside. To “get inside” this virtual world and for that reason you usually need both a special pair of glasses and headphones.
These glasses have to be specially designed for this reality and have a screen that is mounted right in front of your eyes. There are two types of glasses, those that have their own built-in screen such as the Oculus Rift or those that need to incorporate a smartphone to make screen, such as Samsung Gear VR.
Usually, when you have a pair of glasses in which the screen is the mobile itself, the smartphone also serves as a computer managing everything you see. The rest of models usually connect to a laptop or desktop, being them the ones responsible for loading and moving the virtual environment.
Virtual reality glasses cover your eyes so you can only see what’s on the screen. They have sensors that recognise the movement of your head, so that when you turn it to the side you make the same movement within the world or virtual menu in which you are. In addition to the glasses also, it is recommended to have a headset to get a more immersive experience.
However, when you are using virtual reality glasses, the headphones will help you to orientate knowing which direction the sounds come from, while moving your head you can also move within the virtual world. Some models include a command with which to interact by pointing inside the virtual environment or activating the objects or menus.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality or AR is different from the rest by being in it complements the real environment with digital objects. Come on, you see everything that you have around you, but the computer of the team that you place in front of your eyes will be able to reproduce objects, animations or data that are not really there.
This allows, for example, to see how a piece of furniture would be in your room, something that some companies are already using. If you like games, it also allows you to walk the streets of your city capturing with your mobile some Pokémon that really are not there.
To create this type of reality medium real and digital media can be used specially designed glasses, helmets or the lenses of your mobile phone. In the case of glasses, think of Google Glass, which has a transparent glass so you can see what you have around you, but can overlay information about any object.
Both in the case of glasses and helmets will therefore require a CPU to manage the virtual reality that is printed on the real one. This may be included in the device, but it could also be sufficient to connect to an external computer that is responsible for the work. In any case, the common point between glasses or helmet is that they will have to have enough transparent lenses to see your surroundings through them.
On the other hand, you can also use augmented reality on mobile devices such as smartphones. They use their cameras to show you on screen the actual physical elements that you are watching, but also manage with their processors digital elements that are reproduced in a way that seems to be interacting with the real environment. A good example of this type of applications is the Pokémon Go game, which popularised augmented reality a few months ago.
When digital images are interacting with a real environment, in this type of technology is not so important to have some stereo headphones. Neither are the control methods strictly necessary, although this will already depend on each application and how you have to use it.
What is mixed reality?
Mixed reality or MR is a mixture between virtual reality and augmented reality. It is therefore an environment that mixes the best aspects of both, unifying the experience so that you only need a single helmet or glasses to be able to use one or the other.
On the one hand, virtual reality allows you to immerse yourself in completely digital worlds, while the augmented one lets you print digital objects in real environments. Therefore, what mixed reality does is to unite both concepts to allow you to interact with real objects within a virtual world, be totally immersed in a completely virtual world, or reproduce virtual elements in your real environment.
To use augmented reality, you need closed helmets. These will have a camera, so that on the screen you have over your eyes you can see or your real environment through the camera or a totally virtual environment. The helmets, as in the previous cases, may have an internal CPU or have to be connected to an external computer.
Although the mixed reality has been almost the last to arrive, the push of companies like Microsoft are betting everything on it and taking it to Windows 10, which would democratise it so that almost anyone can use it.
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