Here is a quick guide about what really is the difference between XR/ AR / VR / MR technologies.
Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term referring to all real-and-virtual combined environments and interactions generated by computer technology. It includes Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
“XR isn’t about the future – it’s already here”, says Thomas Walter, section Manager, strategic product marketing at NEC Display Solutions Europe.
Extended reality (XR) technology is playing more of a prominent role in different industries and sectors, providing clear benefits in many aspects of work and business, including training, collaborative working and marketing.
In education and training, XR bridges the gap between educators and trainees, enabling closer collaboration even when people attend courses remotely.
XR can accelerate learning, helping companies save money on training.
It provides safe learning environments where trainees can learn from mistakes without risk.
Extended reality also helps learners stay focused, and offers high engagement and knowledge retention.
For presentation and collaboration, XR enables shared, large-scale visualisation and vivid, walk-through representations of designs and structures.
Providing immersive experiences is enabling brands to improve how they market products, bringing customers closer into their world.
Consumers can experience and visualise goods before making a physical purchase.
XR offers detailed analytics, connected to performance and interaction, which support rigorous assessment, testing and refinement of marketing messages.
Virtual Reality might be the one you are most familiar with.
VR is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person is immersed within this virtual environment and in most cases is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.
Many people know VR through the use of Head-Mounted Devices (HMD) like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Google Cardboard. If you want to know more about HMDs, check out this blog article.
What is less known by the public is that there are many different types of virtual reality systems, like VR Caves or VR theatres developed for use within scientific and engineering industries.
In research and development, design and review and education and training, virtual reality (VR) offer a broad range of applications for enterprises and organisations.
In engineering, for example, VR gives firms a means of demonstrating products and services, and visualising outcomes to clients.
Manufacturers can experience products before they commit to producing them.
Virtual prototyping enables them to fine-tune designs and troubleshoot earlier in the development process.
In training, VR is having a marked impact across a large number of sectors, including medical, aerospace, military and sport.
It offers opportunities for iterative learning and repeated exercises in highly realistic, challenging environments.
Commercial applications of VR include the property market, where estate agents can give potential buyers virtual tours of developments, even if they are still at the design or construction stage.
VR also provides highly accurate, walk-through visualisations of architectural projects and renovations.
Virtual reality can also become a useful recruitment tool, giving job applicants a vivid snapshot of what it is actually like to work in a specific role or environment.
Augmented reality (AR), on the contrary, does not give a complete immersion. AR adds digital elements to a live view often done by using the camera on a smartphone or tablet. Augmented reality experiences and games include for example apps like Pokemon Go or devices like the Snapchat lenses.
Augmented reality (AR) provides a richer user experience while providing a cost-effective alternative to other media platforms.
It is especially well-suited to the massively expanding smartphone market, integrating its technology into highly personal and mobile experiences.
AR has a range of important practical applications across different industries.
In the automotive sector, it is used with in-car dashboards to provide drivers with useful and essential travel and technical information.
It also provides virtual instructions for everyday tasks, such as tyre pressure checks and oil changes.
In both education and tourism, AR can add extra layers of information to historical and cultural sites for users, experienced in real time on location.
For customers in the financial and banking sector, there are AR-activated bank cards and geo-targeting apps for locating nearby banking facilities.
Retailers can use AR to provide additional, dynamic brand content, provide product demonstrations and allow consumers to experience product benefits before purchase.
As with other XR technologies, AR also includes detailed analytics, which are extremely useful for providing customer feedback, marketing data and individual performance assessments.
Mixed Reality blends elements of both AR and VR, where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real-time. It allows the user to interact with combined virtual and real objects. Examples of MR include games like Halo Recruit or apps such as HoloTour.
MR’s combination physical and digital is making significant changes to the mainstream in various industries, including manufacturing, design and construction, medical, education and research.
Call-out engineers can use Mixed Reality for accessing up-to-date information and support from remote experts while remaining hands-free to apply this knowledge practically on-site.
Quality controllers in manufacturing can overlay information from head mounted displays (HMDs) and handheld devices, speeding up quality assurance processes and reducing errors.
MR enables intensive on-the-job training, combining practical instruction with digital information.
It can also speed up the training process, helping businesses bridge the skills gap.
Remote experts offer over-the-shoulder coaching to employees and operatives in the field through hands-free MR devices.
Mixed Reality opens up new opportunities for collaboration by bringing together multiple MR devices in shared spaces.
Here, teams can network in a virtual world overlaid onto the physical environment.
MR is changing how people work, learn and live, and it has the potential to expand further to improve and enhance enterprises and organisations.