VR, AR, & MR: What are they, and how are they different?

By October 11, 2017Blog

confused

Are you trying to understand the differences between Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR)?

Sometimes it feels like they release a new ‘Reality’ each month, so we made a handy LlamaZOO guide to help keep up with these newest technologies, what exactly they do, and how they’re being utilized in new and innovative ways.

The best way to think about VR and AR is on a spectrum.  As such a new technology the industry is still working on the language and definitions so in this post we will be looking at some existing examples that will help articulate this spectrum.

First off, we’ll quickly clarify the difference between 360 content and interactive content.  It’s likely that you’ve tried a 360 video on Facebook or your phone – but this is not real interactive content.  A 360 video is limited to panning around an enclosed spherical space – you are a passenger, whereas in VR/AR/MR, you have control of your environment and can interact – you are the driver.

Virtual Reality (VR)

This is where the most noise and hype is happening in the tech world by big players like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung GearVR.  Virtual Reality works with a head-mounted display (HMD) powered by a computer or phone, and users can reach out and interact with their virtual environment with controllers.  The world reveals itself as users look around and explore, and the important thing here is presence.  This technology feels so real it can trick the brain into believing it is somewhere else (rather than standing safely in your living room).  This is perfectly articulated by Save a Cat of Die Trying terrifying thousands of people, which demonstrates that VR has the power to transport us to infinite worlds limited only by our own imagination.

LlamaZOO has released JetsonVR as the world’s first virtual reality canine dissection experience, featuring a medically accurate 3D virtual canine cadaver that can be manipulated and taken apart, layer by layer, organ by organ, in a virtual dissection room.

Jetson VR in action

Jetson VR in action

With me so far..good.

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is delivered through a wearable device or now most commonly, a smartphone.  This Reality is the underdog as analysts believe the application of this technology could be much wider spread. AR is a live view of your reality where elements are augmented (or overlaid) into your environment.

Expect to hear a lot more about AR in the coming months with the launch of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s upcoming ARCore.  This inclusion of AR to smartphone technology will reduce the cost of AR and bring the power of this technology into everyone’s pocket!

One app you’re bound to have heard of is PokemonGo which was the first AR to take the world by storm.  But other great but another great example is Ikea’s Place app.  It lets you try out how 1000’s of items would look in your home.

We’ve released an update for EasyAnatomy using ARKit to bring anatomy to life.  Here’s a sneak peak but download it now and try it for yourself here!

EasyAnatomy in ARKit mode

EasyAnatomy in ARKit mode

 

Ok there’s more…

Mixed Reality (MR)

Mixed Reality (MR) (or sometimes called “hybrid reality”) is a little further down the Reality spectrum from AR.  MR blends digital content with our senses and the real physical world, and this digital content can react in real time.  The primary tech linked with this Reality is Microsoft’s HoloLens which is basically a computer for your head.  It maps the room, understands your surroundings, and knows where you are in relation it.

LlamaZOO developed its EasyAnatomy project for the HoloLens, and also created a unique detail experience of the canine heart. Clients can use gestures and voice commands to interact with the content, such as starting the heart beat, and inspecting certain parts.

Heart demo and EasyAnatomy on HoloLens

Heart demo and EasyAnatomy on HoloLens

 

Well – we made it! and we hope you now understand a little bit more about these amazing technologies, how they work, and how LlamaZOO is using them to solve real-world problems.  If you’re looking to go for a deeper dive into these technologies – this article from Microsoft is a great place to start!

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At LlamaZOO we develop interactive 3D visualizations of complex structures and data, in Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality.

To explore project possibilities, contact us at projects@llamazoo.com