What Are the Different Kinds of “Realities”?

What Are the Different Kinds of Realities

Jumping into the realm of extended reality can help a number of different market sectors simplify training, improve customer service and create unique gaming experiences.

As we get closer and closer to the future of the internet (a.k.a. Web 3.0), the “realities”, besides the one we are used to, are becoming more commonplace. Be it the Nth floor of Accenture or virtual property tours, the different kinds of “realities” can help businesses thrive. 

Training employees with extended reality (XR), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) can make them 70% more efficient in their roles. To make the best of these different realities, we must first understand them. Let’s take a look at these different kinds of emerging realities, their distinctions and their use-cases. 

Extended reality (XR)

XR is a blanket term that includes MR, AR and VR. Basically, it includes all realities from ones that are completely physical to completely virtual. These technologies extend reality by modifying the human-to-screen experience. They immerse you in a virtual environment, add to your physical environment or do both at the same time using MR technology. One of the practical applications of XR is Google Maps. Google Street View uses XR to give you satellite navigation of your destination. 

Virtual reality (VR)

Perhaps the term we would be ‌most familiar with is virtual reality. Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation that a user can interact with using electronic devices. VR is about removing yourself from your physical world and placing yourself in a digital environment. VR tech can be used to create purely digital experiences (like 360-degree videos) and purely virtual environments (like the video game Star Wars: Squadrons). Other real-world applications of VR include healthcare and real estate.

Augmented reality (AR)

Augmented reality is an overlay of computer-generated content onto the physical world. It is important to note that AR doesn’t interact with real-world objects and that the real and virtual objects do not respond to each other. Some of the key examples of AR are Instagram filters and the mobile game Pokémon Go. In both of these, the virtual elements enhance the physical world, like in the case of seeing a 3D Pokémon on the street waiting for you to catch. Augmented reality is useful for medical training, design and modelling.  

Mixed reality (MR)

Mixed reality merges both the real and the virtual worlds by bringing virtual elements into the real world through occlusion. Occlusion refers to obscuring ‌virtual objects into the real world, which means that the virtual elements can interact with the physical world. 

MR is a combination of AR and VR, which is also often used interchangeably with AR. Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, has shared plans to expand its game into the realm of mixed reality by using Microsoft Mesh. The new version of the game will allow players to connect to each other via shared holographic experiences. 

Combined applications of XR

With all these different kinds of realities, one of the key benefactors is the field of gaming. As we previously mentioned, all three subdivisions of XR have been used in video games. Their use can help players feel like they are inside the world of the game. XR can simplify the training process for medical students, firefighters and pilots, for whom real-life training would be a risky venture. 

XR is also considered to be a great way to simplify customer service by providing an immersive “try before you buy” experience. It allows real estate agents to give future homeowners a feel of how the space looks and what they can do with it by creating various layout scenarios.

All of this shows us that XR is an up-and-coming realm that companies can delve into to get a competitive edge and set themselves apart from their competitors.

Header image courtesy of Freepik

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