| March 14, 2022

Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality: What is it?

Today’s technology has come a long way from the days of View-Master’s thin cardboard discs to today’s VR and its close cousin AR. In fact, thanks to big tech giants like Facebook (now Meta), Samsung, Google, and many other such companies betting on high-value returns, virtual, augmented, and mixed reality are making their way into our newsfeed more and more every day. So what exactly are these technologies?

A question originally appearing on Quora- the platform to share and gain knowledge where you ask questions and people with the right information get them answered, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality have very clear distinctions among them. To cut a long story short, the difference between the three technologies can be summed up much like this:

  • Virtual Reality (VR) immerses users in a completely artificial digital environment
  • Augmented Reality (AR) overlays virtual objects in a real-world environment
  • Mixed Reality (MR) mixes the best of both worlds of AR and VR.

Let’s dive deeper into a more detailed picture of VR, AR, and MR technologies, and then let’s take a quick look back into their evolution of what they are today, and what these technologies hold for us in our tomorrow.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality, or VR, is a simulated and immersive experience projected by a device to immerse users in a virtual environment generated by a computer. A VR device not only allows users to see or hear sounds in a virtually simulated environment but also allows them to move around freely in that virtual environment. In fact, users’ VR experience can be enhanced by using special controllers to be controlled by hand.

A VR headset is supposed to be worn to provide that experience, which is either connected to a computer or a gaming console. Imagine slaying dragons like in a battlefield simulated around you or running and walking down the streets of Paris sitting in your living room in Bengaluru, that’s exactly what VR promises for users and much more.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality, or AR, is an interesting way to overlap computer-generated graphics, images, and much more, with our real-world environment, adding to our perception of the world we see. And the fun part is users don’t need a device to enjoy AR, in fact, something as simple as a smartphone with a decent camera, and the AR app provides users with the technology to experience the augmented reality of their world through their mobile phones. Remember Pokemon Go grasped the attention of millions of gamers around the world, not so long ago? That’s perhaps the most vivid example of the augmented reality experience. 

Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality, or MR, is the most recent development in the world of reality technologies, which is essentially a hybrid blend of VR and AR. Wondering how that works? Well, you can enjoy the elements of AR by using a headset just like VR. 

But here’s the fun part- MR is highly interactive in nature which renders realistic projection of the user’s environment and adds visuals to it. Still, you don’t need a remote control to interact with the immersive content. Guess what will work? Your natural body and hand gestures! 

The evolution of VR and AR

The inspiration to come up with VR, as stated by the Virtual Reality Society, came from the “360-degree murals or panoramic paintings of the nineteenth century”. From one of the earliest VR technologies inculcated in Morton’s first VR Head Mounted Display in 1960 to experiencing the world as a simulation in The Matrix in 1999, VR technology has come a long way. 

Jumping to a decade later since the first inception of a VR device, in 1974, American computer artist Myron Krueger developed an interactive environment by combining projectors and video cameras, producing something along the lines of augmented reality. 

What does the future hold in the Reality Technology space?

In the words of Tim Cook, “There are clearly some cool niche things for VR, but it’s not profound in my view. AR is profound.” AR has seen a wider adoption rate among users worldwide because of the simplicity of the nature of its usability. With AR, the whole world becomes the canvas that we can hold between our hands inside our mobile phones.  Despite its long history in reality technologies, VR struggles harder than AR and MR to establish itself as a household name. Although, VR in the automotive industry exhibits some exciting possibilities. 

The world is constantly evolving with continuous development in technologies. Developers are expanding the boundaries of reality technologies with immersive three-dimensional content and the digital realm in an unprecedented manner. It’s really a unique opportunity for experts from various spaces to come together and join the revolution. If you see, Flam apps have revolutionized the way we view photos by transforming a still picture into a live video by just focusing on a photograph and then just watching it come alive! Flam apps support all smartphone devices and can print any video. It is a completely customisable process- it works on any video, any photo you want! 


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