VR, AR, MR Technologies: Differences and Areas of Application
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As Morpheus once said, if you were unable to wake up from a dream, how could you tell the difference between your dreams and the real world? Fortunately, we can still distinguish between reality and fantasy, but technology is gradually blurring the lines.
VR, AR, MR — all of these acronyms are associated with the interaction between actual and digital reality. Each technology can be used to develop in the fields of business, education, manufacturing and many other areas. Virtual, augmented and mixed reality provide unique opportunities. Which one should you choose and how can you use it? Read on to find out.
What is virtual reality (VR)?
Virtual reality is an artificial digital environment. It allows users to see, hear and move as if they are inside another reality. An example of virtual reality use is Google VR Services. Google VR is a platform that allows clients to connect VR devices and use virtual reality apps. According to Statista’s experts, sales of virtual reality devices will double in two years. Such growing demand indicates that the VR business deserves attention.
This technology is the most known of the three: back in the nineties, it was presented to the world, although it was poorly developed. Now, the situation has changed, and people understand what VR is and what it can do. Over the years, virtual reality is becoming less distinguishable from the real life. The main application of virtual reality technologies is in entertainment. However, recent innovations in the field have led to more intricate VR displays with a quality high enough to justify its use in more serious areas.
Virtual reality technology application
A few years ago, VR headsets were expensive and massive, but now they’re available to a broad audience. The improved image quality and the level of immersion force users to stay in games for hours. These VR headsets allow players to feel like astronauts, ninjas or anyone else. There are different types of virtual reality for building a business in this area: from a development studio to a VR space in a mall. While VR remains an unusual and intriguing phenomenon for the audience, it’s worth taking advantage of the high demand.
Those who have always wanted to feel like the hero of an exciting film will fulfill their dream thanks to VR. Now, the technology of filming 360-degree panoramas is just beginning to develop, but such products already exist. Spherical or domed cinemas allow viewers to look at the screen in front of them while seeing what’s happening in the movie from all sides. This makes watching videos in VR much more exciting and immersive.
One of the main trends in recent years is the use of electronic technologies in education. While some are still mastering electronic whiteboards and online presentations, more advanced educational institutions are looking for ways to further immerse students in virtual reality so that they can have a realistic experience and better understand the material. This can be useful, for example, in teaching driving or even surgery.
However, the use of VR in medicine is not limited to education: modern technologies allow real surgeries to occur in virtual reality. Special cameras and sensors enable doctors to accurately track everything that happens in the body and take the necessary actions to cure the patient. The surgeon puts on a headset and holds special joysticks for remote control of mechanical devices. Thus, the surgery is performed by a robot controlled by the surgeon.
Building a new house or a mall is a massive and challenging task. Even if the design looks good, the result can be unsatisfactory. VR technology is an excellent solution to this problem. By designing future buildings in virtual reality, specialists can show customers the final result before construction even begins. The details will differ, but the ability to walk around a future apartment will prevent all possible mistakes and allow the contractor to build what the client wants.
What is augmented reality (AR)?
Augmented reality technologies allow users to add digital content to the real world. This can lead to interesting applications like seeing a watch on your wrist, sneakers on your feet or a bed in your room. These objects can be in image or video format. Fortune Business Insight predicts that the AR market will grow at a CAGR of 46.8% over the next seven years. The technology will become more accessible, the level of immersion will increase, and users will have more trust in manufacturers. It's worth entering the market now!
Unlike VR, AR doesn’t require the purchase of a special headset, although they exist too, you just need to install an app on your smartphone. By aiming the camera at real objects or parts of the room, you will see digital objects on the screen. Where can augmented reality be used?
Augmented reality technology application
AR technology is an excellent advertising tool that can help you sell a real product to a client. Potential buyers can try on your product without any pressure to buy. Eventually, this will make it easier to make a decision to give money to the advertiser because clients can see how the product will manifest itself in action. An example of augmented reality use in this area is online fitting rooms, which minimize mistakes when buying clothes or shoes. Our example is the Leef watch fitting app. Users move the smartphone camera over their hand and “try on” the watch to choose the appropriate size and style.
One of the crucial aspects of production is the human factor. The less it affects the well-coordinated mechanism of creating goods, the better they are. For example, special glasses, with directions and visual instructions that appear on the screen, can help a mechanic assemble a device. This, in turn, improves work efficiency and reduces errors.
For our partner, the agrotech company iFarm, we have designed the AR glasses interface for farmworkers. Augmented reality shows active tasks when they look at the shelf. Moreover, users can mark completed tasks using the AR device.
AR technologies are often used in retail. They allow buyers to navigate large stores, showing directions to fitting rooms and checkout. However, the technologies are not limited to this. Augmented allows users to navigate museums, medical clinics, educational institutions and streets.
Repair and maintenance
Augmented reality technology allows even beginners to tackle technical challenges, whether it's repairing a cabinet or servicing a car. For example, the I-Mechanic app scans a real-time image of a vehicle and shows the required actions on the screen. If the breakdown is an easy fix, the use of such an app will significantly simplify the life of the car owner.
What is mixed reality (MR)?
MR is an environment tied to the position of objects in the real world. It’s safe to say that it links VR and AR. In the case of MR, the user sees their actual physical environment, but MR objects become more real and allow for user interaction. This is due to special sensors that track the position of objects in the real world and transfer them to the virtual one.
Mixed reality technology is more complex than AR, which is why it’s not as widespread. Nevertheless, app and hardware developers are investing in the creation of MR products. For example, in December 2018, Zspace Inc. released a laptop designed for teachers, students and healthcare professionals. The product combines VR and AR technologies by using a dedicated 3D screen and glasses, which makes mixed reality content more accessible.
Mixed reality technology application
In the era of remote communication, it’s essential to stay in touch with real people. Sometimes instant messengers and even video calls aren’t enough. Microsoft suggested a technology that employs MR for communication: the Microsoft Mesh program provides the effect of presence, even if the speaker is on the other side of the planet.
By being immersed in mixed reality, as well as in VR, students can literally touch the objects of study. The important difference is that users can actually touch them, hold them in their hands and see them from different angles. This allows students to learn the topic better and are inspired by the material, which motivates them to keep studying.
As in augmented reality, holographic instructions help avoid mistakes and reduce the negative impact of the human factor. In addition to production, mixed reality technologies can be useful, for example, in repair work. A person does not just perform tasks as well as possible but follows visual instructions that are accurate to the millimeter.
Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality are already taking over the world, but there is still space for research and innovations. You can be the one who uses them in new ways and create a practical and profitable product. Contact us, and we will be happy to use our experience to develop a VR, AR or MR product with you.