The relative differences between virtual, augmented and mixed reality can be quite confusing. As the industry is still evolving, consensus is still a little blurry. This can make it challenging to select which of the three work best for solving a specific challenge, or bringing a brand to life.

Here’s the Laduma take.

Virtual Reality

VR is all about ‘Presence’. This refers to the way that the brain is fooled into thinking it’s actually experiencing what’s going on around it. Generally speaking, higher quality VR production results in the brain being convinced that the situation is more real. This can result in emotional and physical responses. For instance, a point of view scene of a diver leaping off a boat can make the user gasp and feel a flash of anxiety throughout the heart and body. In short, VR is about immersive experiences.

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VR activation at HSBC fan zone, The Open 2017

To experience the immersion and presence of VR, some form of headset or viewing device such as a ‘Google Cardboard’ is needed. Most VR content is in the form of 360 degree video. Post-production techniques enable the option of adding graphics or text to the scenario.

Summary: In VR, nothing is real. The whole experience is immersive, but virtual.

 

 

Augmented Reality

AR is the overlay of digitally-generated content on top of views of the real world. Unlike VR, it’s a “live” experience, which incorporates the physical world rather than a fabricated one. In other words, the world you see is the real one right in front of you with virtual components on top. Pokémon Go is the best-known example, which helped to prove the AR concept and open the floodgates for countless practical applications. Overlays are often in the form of text, captions, directions and other data.

 

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Augmented Reality in action

AR apps enable users to experience the medium via sensor-equipped wearable devices or smart phones and tablets. The option to access AR via personal devices means the experience is more accessible and user friendly than VR. Where a headset is required for the full experience. Screens combined with cameras can also be used, meaning the spectator doesn’t require any device at all.

AR is a passive experience rather than a truly active one. What it doesn’t do is offer a true relationship between the real and digital components.

Summary: An overlay over the top of the real world but without an integrated relationship between the two.

Mixed Reality

Simply put, MR combines VR and AR. The medium enables the viewer to see the real world as well as become immersed in a virtual scenario. It’s about integration rather than an overlay, and makes virtual objects seem as if they’re actually in the real world. Great Mixed Reality makes it difficult to distinguish between the real and virtual elements.

Mixed Reality is a much more ‘real’ experience than Augmented Reality. It offers a true relationship between the real and virtual components, which coexist and interact in real time. For example, as the viewer moves closer to a virtual object within a real surrounding, that object becomes larger. The object is anchored, meaning it stays in the same place even when walking away and returning.

Mixed Reality can be experienced through wearables like Hololens or personal devices, making it accessible without the need of a headset. Viewers can also interact via screens, creating the opportunity for amazing experiential opportunities.

Summary: The seamless integration of real and virtual worlds, where physical and digital content interact in real time.

It takes a little time to get one’s head around these categorizations. The industry itself hasn’t finished fully defining what’s what – but that’s the Laduma take.

If you’re still confused, or would like to chat about VR, AR or MR, just give us a call or drop us a line.

Dave Alder, Chief Marketing Officer, Laduma.