With all the headsets, goggles, glasses, paddles, and wires associated with virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, many are searching for an umbrella term to encompass it all. But as the technology continues to evolve, the distinctions among these three platforms become more significant. To sort through the noise, FutureVision breaks down today’s technology to help users better understand what’s coming.
1. Augmented Reality (AR)
A digital layer is added to the physical world around us, usually through a device like a smartphone or special lenses such as Google Glass. The virtual content in AR is generally not responsive to real-world surroundings.
2. Mixed Reality (MR)
In a “hybrid” environment whose differences from AR many experts are still debating, interactive virtual objects can be mapped to the physical environment. Microsoft’s HoloLens is the best example of MR to date, and Magic Leap’s to-be-determined form factor will help further define the category.
3. Virtual Reality (VR)
In a completely immersive, three-dimensional simulated realm, the user can move about and interact with the virtual environment through an avatar or “first-person shooter” perspective, as common in videogames.