VOL 29: What are Immersive Technologies? VR, AR and MR.
Trust you all had a great week?
We spend a lot of time looking at screens these days, the average American spends over 7 hours 11 minutes looking at a screen each day according to a data from DataReportal.
Computers, smartphones, and televisions have all become a big part of our lives, they're how we get our news, use social media, watch movies, and much more. Extended Reality like VR, AR and MR are technologies that are changing the way we use screens, creating new and exciting interactive experiences.
As the momentum of innovation continues to build, there are a lot of talks nowadays about virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). With COVID limiting physical interaction, virtual communication and interaction will be the norm for many years to come.
Although seen as futuristic by some, augmented, virtual and mixed reality devices have shown that they have an important part to play in many different industries. They are truly the technology of the future, today.
What are Immersive Technologies?
AR, VR, MR all fall under this sector called immersive technology. This is defined as technologies that create or extend reality, and this is done by immersing the user in a digital environment, having applications in different domains. Like; Healthcare, Transportation, Construction, Gaming, Web applications, Military etc.
With the rapid growth and diversification of disruptive technologies today, it’s difficult to keep up with the multitude of buzzwords and acronyms that define them.
The first thing to know is that the “R” in “AR”, “VR”, and “MR” stands for “Reality.” Each one of these forms of media fundamentally changes the user’s perception of reality. It’s how they accomplish this that sets them apart from each other. So, let’s set the record straight and take a look at why these terms are so important to be familiar with right now.
Virtual reality immerses you in a virtual world through the use of a headset with some type of screen displaying a virtual environment. These headsets also use a technology called head tracking, which allows you to look around the environment by physically moving your head. The display will follow whichever direction you move, giving you a 360-degree view of the virtual environment.
The possibilities in a Virtual Reality environment are endless, as the user enters an entirely new world of perception. Some environments are designed and developed to be photorealistic, emulating the real world, while others may aim for different art styles or aesthetics.
Virtual Reality’s growing accessibility has increased its prominence across all industries and is nowadays integrated with many standard business processes. Big tech companies like Microsoft, Facebook (Meta), Apple, Google, Samsung etc. are investing billions of dollars in the virtual reality space.
Some of the best products that use VR technology are; Facebook Oculus, PlayStation VR, Lenovo Mirage etc. These gadgets enable an individual to immerse in a digital environment to experience a world that is different from reality.
Augmented reality allows you to see the world around you with digital images layered on top of it. It can also be defined as a technology that projects computer-generated augmentations on top of reality, helping us perform tasks better and efficiently.
There are currently a couple of AR headsets available, including the Microsoft HoloLens and the Magic Leap. However, they are currently more expensive than VR headsets, and are marketed primarily to businesses.
Augmented reality can also be used on devices like smartphones and laptops without the use of a headset. There are a variety of apps that use AR, including some that allow you to translate text using your camera, identify stars in the sky. You may have even previously used AR without realizing it, apps like Google lens or using filters on Snapchat uses AR technology.
It can also be used for interior designing, virtual dressing rooms, tourism, data visualization etc.
N.B: The major difference between both technologies is that VR replaces reality, taking you somewhere else while AR adds to reality, projecting information on top of what you're already seeing.
Mixed Reality, sometimes known as hybrid reality is a step further, it takes augmented reality to another level. It combines the elements of both AR as well as VR. However, here the virtual content is not only overlaid on the actual environment but is fixed to and interacts with that environment.
Hard to put it in words but I’ll try.
In simple terms Mixed Reality lets you see virtual objects just like Augmented Reality, but these objects are capable of interacting with the real world. Mixed Reality is more like blending the real world with virtual reality, unlike AR, users can interact with virtual objects in MR.
MR is still in its early stages and may take time to create an impact like the other two technologies.
As Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook said, “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones”.
Immersive technologies are quickly becoming part of our daily lives and they are here to stay. If done right, these technologies show incredible potential.
I believe that immersive technologies will shape our lives just as much as the internet, smartphones, and social media. Immersive technologies are not something far in the distant future, but it’s happening right now on a daily basis and it’s growing fast, it’s only a matter of time before these technologies become mainstream.
P.S: For a quick recap, the basic definition of these terms are as follows:
− Virtual reality (VR): this replaces reality with a completely new 3D digital environment.
− Augmented reality (AR): this overlays digital content on top of the real world.
− Mixed reality, (MR): allows you to see and immerse yourself in the world around you even as you interact with a virtual environment.
Face Of The Week
SOCRATES (470–399 BC)
He was a Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as being the first moral philosopher of the Western ethical tradition of thought.
He is arguably the most influential philosopher of all time, his ideas change the course of history. He was a soldier and a stonecutter before devoting his life to being a philosopher.
Little is known about him because he never wrote anything about himself or his ideas, most of what we know about him today are written by his students; Plato and Xenophon.
Socrates had plenty of ideas but he is famously known for telling people “he knows nothing”. He said, “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing”.
In 399 BC, he was charged with not believing the Athenian gods and using his ideas to corrupt the youth and was therefore sentenced to death by poison.
I hope you enjoyed learning.
Enjoy your weekend.