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Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality vs Mixed Reality

As the name suggests, augmented reality is an environment in which we will see and feel the real world, yet receive an information layer on top of that. Augmented – or supplemented – objects can enhance our senses and create a whole new environment to enjoy. Pokemon Go, for example, is one of the latest projects to take augmented reality to the mainstream in quite a successful manner. Another example, is an app on our phone that can scan the environment and and provide us with extra information.
Do not confuse augmented reality with virtual reality, as the two are very different. Virtual reality puts the user in a whole new environment, creating an encompassing ecosystem in which everything is simulated. One could argue VR makes one lose contact with the real world, which is exactly what game developers are trying to achieve right now. Replacing the real world with a simulated one is very different from enhancing the existing environment.

One of the selling points of augmented reality is how this technology enhances the perception of reality. Displaying information on the TV during a debate or movie, for example, creates an augmented scenario. Augmented and virtual reality both focus on making the world more interactive, albeit they use different methods to do so. AR is mainly designed to bring the virtual world into the real world. Virtual reality, on the other hand, puts the user in a fictitious environment where the real world can be forgotten for a while.

A new trend is slowly starting to emerge in the technology sector as well. Mixed reality is similar to augmented reality in some ways, yet the two are not exactly alike. While mixed reality merges the real and virtual world similar to AR, it takes things one step further. New environments and visualizations can be produced where physical and digital objects not only exist side-by-side, but also interact with each other in real time.

Experts like to think of mixed reality as an environment where the real world and virtual reality come together. As a result, this hybrid ecosystem is more powerful than augmented reality, as it brings augmented virtuality to the table as well. The concept of mixed reality dates back to the 1990s, although it has taken quite some time until this technology could be realized. MR made its way into different industries already, including military training and simulation based learning.

It is evident our society will be in for a real treat once all of these technological developments come to fruition. Although not everyone will want to escape reality completely, enhancing our awareness and improving interaction with digital objects and information can be quite useful. Do not expect to interact with objects like Iron Man does in his lab any time soon, though.

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