What is the difference between VR, AR and MR

Although they are quite similar, there is some significant difference between the three types of “realities” and how they interact with us humans.

Let’s start with VR – virtual reality can be described in a lot of complicated ways, but maybe the most accurate and straight to the point is this one: VR is an artificial digital environment that completely replaces the real environment or the so-called “real world”. A good metaphor is that the person is submerged in a digitally created world – hearing, vision, and in some cases, even other senses are completely created by a digital device and delivered to the person via a headset in most cases. There are two types of headsets delivering the VR – PC-connected and standalone.

After VR comes AR –  the augmented reality is quite popular these days, but many people don’t make the difference between AR and VR. The main difference is that AR is “layered” on top of the real world. That can have many shapes and forms, but the most common ones are videos, images, and other interactive data types. It won’t be wrong to say that AR can be used to enrich the real-world experience of the user. Another key differentiation between AR and VR is that for the augmented reality, you don’t necessarily need a headset. AR can be delivered through smart glasses, headsets, AND portable devices such as our smartphones.

And now comes the time to explain MR – the mixed reality (also known as hybrid reality). The main difference between MR and the other two is that the mixed reality works with and is anchored to the real world. We can look at MR as an advanced type of augmented reality. The main difference is that the digital objects created in the real world are capable of real-time interactions with the environment and the user. There is a significant difference in the devices used for the creation of MR. Most of the time, they are holographic devices (headsets with translucent glasses) or immersive devices (instead of glass, they use cameras to let the user be aware of the surrounding environment). After we know what is similar and what is different between the three types of “realities”, now it is time to take a look at…

How are AR, VR, and MR increasing results for the different industries, and what are the real-world applications of those types of technologies?

Let’s take a look at some statistics so we can gain perspective about the enormous power of AR & VR. One of our favourite examples is from none other but the aviation industry. An industry that can’t afford mistakes. An industry in which neglecting a small detail can be fatal for hundreds of persons. In aircraft manufacturing, one of the leading companies has implemented AR’s power to achieve a stunning decrease of the time for the inspection of already built components by 96%. Yes, the digit is correct – after including the AR technology in their workflow, the inspection time was reduced from 36 hours to only 90 minutes. Of course, this is quite an extreme example, but a decrease of at least 25% is something typical for the manufacturing industry.

An interesting fact is that AR actually can provide something similar to X-ray vision. That is really helpful in the education industry, but not only. This type of implementation of AR was used by a company from the healthcare niche to reduce human mistakes by 45% when taking blood samples. The innovative company decided to “project” a map of the patient’s veins onto his forearm so the medical personnel can take the blood sample much easier. The same aircraft company from earlier decided to leverage the power of AR not only for the manufacturing process but also in the education of the new company recruits. They used AR to let the new trainees assemble an aircraft wing with 30 parts and 50 necessary steps. The results were a decrease of 35% less used time and an astonishing 90% success rate with persons that are doing the task for the first time.

Mixed Reality is currently implemented by one of the world’s biggest technological giants and operation system manufacturers to scale their well-known communication app. With the help of a VR set, you can pick up calls and interact with colleagues all around the world without the limits of the physical world. That gives the potential of a way more sophisticated communication that is not interrupted by the limitations of physical barriers like distance.

Other companies are using AR and/or VR models to present their products in ways that are incomparably more efficient than the standard boring presentations. That is especially useful in segments like real-estate and tourism. For example, a worldwide furniture manufacturer started using AR a few years ago to promote their products effectively and in an immersive way. This strategy is also very potent when it comes to real estate sales. But when it comes to tourism – the benefits are limitless. With VR, you can experience the comfort of even the furthest hotel in the world and be well informed on what you can expect when you arrive at your target destination. That puts an end to the miscommunication between hoteliers and customers and actually benefits both sides.

When we talk about AR and real-world consumers, there is one very special niche. The restaurants and their augmented reality menus. Maybe the scale of the improvement in other areas like manufacturing, for example, is greater, but when it comes to AR menus – there is something special! In our opinion, the special ingredient is hidden in the transformation. We love to see how AR menus are transforming the experience of the customers. The restaurants leveraging the augmented reality’s immersive power are providing the chance for their lucky clientele to experience the menu. This situation fascinates us because it demonstrates how AR is not just a special feature reserved only for big corporations. With the use of AR menus, we can observe a change in the dynamic between a brand and its direct customer. These types of menus are removing old and boring menus and replacing them with an interactive experience. The visitor is no longer staring at a simple two-dimensional printed piece of paper. He can witness the “preparation” of his meal (in the form of an AR video) or can view a 3D model of his desired dish right in front of his eyes.

Actually, the improvement in communication is not only reserved for occasions such as a restaurant visit or similar type of events. No, the AR, VR, and hopefully, the MR will soon be a part of our everyday life. We believe that in the future, communication and content consumption will evolve. For us, when the AR and VR content becomes more easily available, it will become the standard. This is our greatest desire and fuels our souls with the passion needed to continue generating valuable content and ready-to-be-implemented solutions.

Besides our personal aspirations and dreams, there is another reason that almost guarantees the leading place when it comes to communication and content. We are talking about the way our brain works. Actually, our brain uses images and plays us short movies when he is thinking about something. Our grey matter doesn’t use written words or flat two-dimensional images. No, our brains are using vivid 3D images and movies, and this is exactly what AR, VR, and MR are built from. The big deal here is that this type of communication or content consumption is decreasing the cognitive load in the users. On the other hand, the two-dimensional pieces of information are increasing the cognitive load of our brains. In the case of the written information, it first has to be transcoded to auditory input (words), then assimilated by our brain, and after that, the need to decode those words to real images or “videos” is still present in the processing line. With AR and VR, this is almost completely avoided.

Before the end of the article, we, of course, need to mention another area that soon would be completely transformed by the raising of the AR and VR tech.

Sales and marketing will go through a revolution

One of the reasons is that it is crucial for the end client to experience as little as possible mental strain and cognitive load when it comes to decisions. And what technology reduces the cognitive strain AND can be useful for advertising companies and digital marketing professionals? Yes, you guessed it right – the augmented and virtual realities. And if we talk about sales – there is another big transformation around the corner. The powerful AR is redefining the concept of showrooms and how the products are presented to the customers. With the help of the very realistic real-time presentation of the desired product, every customer can make a well-informed decision and have his expectations met by the final product delivered to him.

With this final insight about the power of AR and VR in the realm of marketing, we are just scratching the surface. All of the potentials for growth with AR and VR’s help is yet to be explored by digital marketing agencies and insightful business leaders.

For now, we hope that we were able to shine a little more light onto the countless possibilities that augmented, virtual and mixed realities are already providing us and will provide in the foreseeable future. For more interesting articles on these topics, stay in touch with us and please take a look at our other resources.