Definition of Terms
Augmented reality is the overlaying of virtual objects in the real world environment, virtual reality immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment and mixed reality overlays and anchors virtual objects in the real world. In augmented reality, the real world is enhanced with digital objects while there is full immersion in the virtual environment. Mixed reality is a combination of augmented and mixed reality because it allows users to interact with both the real world and the virtual world.
Augmented Reality (AR)
In augmented reality, users see and interact with a real environment where digital objects are being added to enhance it. Augmented reality has been extensively utilized in the game Pokemon Go! People in the real world use their smartphones and run in pursuit of small digital creatures. There are a number of AR downloadable applications on the internet today that can help people experience this technology first hand. Another way to experience AR other than on a smart phone is through a special AR headset that allows one to view digital content displayed on a small screen in front of the user’s eyes. An example of such headsets is Google Glass.
Augmented reality provides opportunities for learning to both healthcare professionals and the patient populations. AR has improved the standard and availability of learning materials. Medical Realities for instance is an innovative medical training organization that has been able to build impressive repository surgical resources using Google Glass. This has enabled its users to experience an operation through the eyes of an experience surgeon. This will definitely have a huge impact on the standard of medical education across the globe. One’s ability to experience all these on a handheld device like tablet or smart phone is much more cost effective that medical simulators while at the same time reaching a wider audience.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality is a technology that immerses its users in a computer generated environment. Some of the VR environments are more advanced such that users can move around and use sound and voices. There may also be special hand controllers that make the experiences more wholesome and totally immersive. To experience virtual reality, one has to wear a VR headset that are often connected to a computer such as those of Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR gaming console. There are also independent devices such as Google Cardboard that is gaining popularity in the VR world. There are also 3600 immersive videos that are a form of VR. You can immerse yourself in these videos by wearing a smartphone-inserted headset.
Mixed Reality (MR)
Mixed reality can come in two forms: one that starts with the real world and the other that starts with the virtual world. In the first instance, virtual objects are overlaid on the real world and users can interact with them. While the digital objects are being added, the user remains in the real world environment. This is basically an advanced form of AR and a real-life example is how Skype is used on HoloLens. In the second form of mixed reality, the virtual world is anchored on the real world and then replaces it. The user is then able to immerse himself in the virtual world and the real world is completely left out. This is different from VR because the digital objects overlap the real objects while in VR, the virtual world and the real world around the user are not connected. Mixed reality can be experienced by wearing the Windows MR headsets.
Understanding how these technologies work is important as it helps one determine how they can be applied in business.