The Differences between Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Reality


There is no doubt that virtual reality is going to be the most exciting gaming technology ever created. But if you want to imagine the future of VR, then you are going to have to see what is current available. A lot of work and research has gone into virtual reality, and as a result of that research, it has split into three distinct subcategories. Being able to understand VR effectively starts with being able to understand the three different types of virtual reality currently available. Let’s take a look at each of these three types in detail.

Virtual Reality

The first topic that we will be discussing is straight-up virtual reality. These days, that means putting on a virtual reality helmet such as the HTC Vive. Virtual reality helmets such as these are extremely immersive. You can easily get lost in a virtual environment when you are playing games using these headsets. But there are problems that come with using full virtual reality. First of all, it can be a little scary to put on a virtual reality helmet that blocks out all sounds and visuals except for the ones in the game. In fact, those with anxiety problems may not be able to use the standard VR helmet because they are not able to overcome the anxiety that comes with it.

Virtual reality comes in two basic forms: the first is the mobile phone VR helmet. These VR helmets are now being sold for as little as $5 and as much as $100. But no matter what the price tag, they all have one thing in common; they use the mobile phone to create the VR experience. You simply put your mobile phone into the unit and then load an app that gives you a VR experience. However, this is a very shallow experience when compared to other types of virtual reality.

For example, the virtual reality helmets that are connected to consoles and computers give you a much better experience. They are more immersive because the games that were designed for the helmet were designed exactly for that particular piece of hardware. The HTC Vive is an example of such a VR helmet. In the very near future, these helmets will not even be connected to consoles and computers. They will have their own computer systems built right into the VR helmet.

Mixed Reality

Mixed reality is the next type of VR that we’ll discuss. Mixed reality is very likely the future of virtual reality gaming. Mixed reality combines the standard virtual reality, as described above, with the real world. Cameras that are placed on the outside of the virtual reality helmet scan in the objects that are around you in the real world and import them into your virtual world. You still get the same virtual reality experience, but you are incorporating whatever environment you happen to be in.

For example, if you are playing a zombie game, and you happen to be out walking through the woods, then the virtual reality helmet will import the trees that are around you in near real time and build your game around that actual environment. This does two things that make it one of the most exciting VR technologies current available. First, it removes the need for a safe space in which to play a VR game. No longer will you be worrying about running into your couch or coffee table when you play. Instead, these elements will already have been brought into your game and rendered in the virtual world.

The other thing that mixed reality does is incorporate the sights and sounds of the real world. For example, if your game imports a vehicle passing in real time, there is no need to program playing a prerecorded car engine whizzing by. Instead, you will be hearing the real engine noise of a car in the virtual world. Obviously, there are a lot of safety concerns with this technology, as well as a lot of bugs to work out, but the future is very bright when it comes to Mixed Reality. If the technology can be perfected, it is going to change the entire landscape of virtual reality gaming.

Augmented Reality

Finally, we’re going to talk about augmented reality. Augmented reality is a fairly common term these days, due to the technology having been around for several years. There have been a number of popular augmented reality games in the past few years, including the extremely successful augmented reality game “Pokemon Go.” This game used real world locations and superimposed Pokemon onto the environment using some pretty incredible technology.

But the future of augmented reality isn’t really in gaming. Instead, the future of augmented reality is going to be all around us. Like the science-fiction movies of old, we will soon have access to a HUD (heads-up display) that gives us information about our environment. Basically, anything that we see is going to have information attached to it, and the internet will be in everything and everyone. You will be able to look at someone and know whether you have met them before – and even more importantly, what your conversations with them were actually like. Augmented reality will be the new way that we interact with the world around us in the near future.

Where Will VR Go?

Where does the future of virtual reality lie? No one really knows. It is entirely possible that the holodecks of Star Trek will be available one of these days. Right now, virtual reality is just coming out of its infancy, and there is no telling how much the technology will advance in the near future, or what innovations people will think of related to it. But one thing is clear: VR is the future of gaming, and in the coming years and decades, gaming on a computer screen will seem as outdated as text-based adventures or Super Mario Brothers on the original NES.

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