Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality: Let's address the differences.

While endless amounts of software, products, and ideas are emerging, it often becomes difficult to keep up. Augmented, virtual, and mixed realities are helping enterprises scale knowledge faster, but with these solutions hitting the market, we often confuse the different terminology that comes along with them. Let's sort out some of the main differences.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality is a tool used to overlay digital information on top of physical objects or environments. It allows users to “see” both simultaneously. AR experiences typically are activated by scanning a VuMark or image target with something like a handheld device or digital eye-wear. AR can include elements such as text, graphics, video, animation, and sound. A particularly helpful aspect of AR is its ability to provide workers with 3D work instructions and guidance, further resulting in increasingly skilled workers.

More and more organizations are leveraging industrial AR solutions. AR solutions lead organizations to optimized manufacturing operations, improved field service outcomes, accelerated training, and supercharged sales/marketing efforts. AR plays a prominent role in transferring knowledge and documenting procedures, while also saving huge amounts of money for adopters of AR.

Mixed reality

Mixed reality blends the physical and digital worlds into a programmed experience. It allows users visualize and interact with digital information like 3D overlays and real-time data. A major difference between mixed reality and augmented reality is that in mixed reality, digital objects are actually integrated into the experience. They're not just superimposed. Because of this, mixed reality experiences require a more immersive, hands-free device (like the Microsoft HoloLens).

Similar to AR, mixed reality solutions continue to help industrial enterprises deliver valuable insight into their equipment and products in a visual, easy way. Users of mixed reality solutions can visualize what’s going on inside a machine. They can prevent failures and downtime with predictive maintenance alerts, rapid parts identification, and easy-to-follow repair sequences.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality differs from both AR and MR due to the fact it fully immerses users into a virtual world. VR occupies a user’s entire field of vision to make them feel as if they're in another location entirely. Because of VR's ability to immerse users into a completely virtual world, it makes its' users incapable of safely performing any kind of physical tasks.

Some say that VR is arguably better suited for the gaming and entertainment industry than as an on-the-job workforce productivity tool. However, virtual reality has shown value as an effective tool in situations that require a more controlled environment, such as in training scenarios, 3D design, and practicing dangerous or risky workplace tasks.

For more information, check out our augmented reality page.