Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality Explained

guy experiencing VR Technology in a museum setting

AR, VR and now mixed reality? There's a lot to keep track of in the emerging world of virtual and augmented reality. Acronyms aside, all the tech is moving fast and starting to overlap — adding to the confusion. We're here to set the record straight on what's what and how it's used.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality and mixed reality are often confused as the products are changing rapidly. To set the record straight, augmented reality is a digital overlay of information onto the real world. The most famous example of augmented reality is Google Glass — the wearable headset. Some of the main applications contained numerical overlays that displayed data in the real world in real time. While there will be many practical functions for AR in the future, mixed and virtual reality have started to steal the spotlight.

Mixed Reality

Mixed reality refers to virtual objects projected onto the real world. Sounds confusing, but there are several real world examples to clear it up. Pokémon Go was the first smash-hit app that used rudimentary Mixed Reality technology. The Pokémon is a virtual object overlaid onto a real world backdrop. While some simple examples of Mixed Reality exist, it's more of a future tech with plenty of cool devices down the pipeline (see Google-funded project Magic Leap or Microsoft's Hololens).

Virtual Reality

While AR and mixed reality will surely excite in the future, VR is here in many different forms today. Virtual reality headsets use computers to render a virtual world in real-time — usually mounted over your eyes as a headset for full immersion. Various types of VR headsets are on the market, like cardboard VR sets that transform your phone into a headset, or higher quality sets like PlayStation VR or the Oculus Rift. Virtual reality offers numerous apps, games and experiences for you to enjoy right now. Experience VR today with our demos of the PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift at your local store.

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