Augmented reality (or AR, from Augmented Reality) and virtual reality (or VR, virtual reality) can be confusing. Both have been on the technology news for years as promises to offer a new way to communicate, play and navigate, but the two are still seen as cutting edge by those who adopt them in their projects.
What is virtual reality?
The VR, or virtual reality, is about the digital world. It is when the images and sounds around you are replaced by virtual content, generated and managed by computer. This “fake environment”, made with graphical elements, can be very similar to the real world, it’s true.
The VR is able to engage you in 360 degrees and in three dimensions to convey an illusion (such as in a video game or a broadcast of a 360-degree basketball game) even if those spaces are partially or totally navigable and interactive and, as you move and use your hands, you can even manipulate objects.
That is, virtual reality is an advanced interface, which allows a user to use, play or see something. The goal is to recreate to the maximum the sensations of “reality”, allowing interaction with virtual objects, in real time, without connection with the physical.
What is augmented reality?
AR, or augmented reality, is about the real world. It is when you look at an environment that exists and sees overlapping elements, with information and graphics specific to a location, for example. It’s worth noting that this is not the same thing as using a Google Glass, which just displays information before your eyes without linking it to location data or making it relevant in that space.
You may have seen someone playing GO Pokémon, or measuring environments through your cell phone camera – like iOS’s Measure does – or even experimenting with how they would stay mobile in the living room with the camera. These examples help you understand how AR works: it’s the integration of virtual (on-screen) information and the real world.
Augmented reality can be defined as a system that:
- It combines virtual elements with a real environment;
- It is interactive and has real-time processing;
- It is designed and displayed in three dimensions;
What is mixed reality?
The two technologies, however, are ever closer. And why not, together? The term mixed reality (or Mixed Reality MR), logically, describes the technology that combines the overlay of augmented reality in the real world with the ability of virtual reality to insert graphic and digital elements on the viewing screen.
The mixed reality, a concept widely used by Microsoft, developer of Hololens, already gives some examples of how it is possible to unite the two universes in the area of health in surgeries as two remote teams or during classes, for example.
AR, on Apple’s iOS 12, also blends the virtual and real world with support for detection and tracking of 3D images and objects and automatic application in apps.