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Beginners Guide to Extended, Virtual and Augmented Reality

Ever played with Virtual Reality (VR) glasses. It can be a lot of fun. VR technology used to be very expensive but it has become affordable over the past decade. In addition to VR you might have come across Augmented Reality (AR) and Merged or Mixed Reality (MR). If you haven’t, don’t worry. I will unpack these terms down for you.

VR or Virtual Reality is a temporary experience created through clever use of visual technology. You put on goggles, headphones and other paraphernalia to explore a virtual world. This means you can see virtual "things" in an environment created by a computer. You might even interact with some things in this virtual world all around you. VR is used in games & entertainment. Some organizations have started using it for training employees. Medical professionals are experimenting with its use in therapy.

VR has pros and cons. The pros are that the wonderful experiences users can have. The major con is the inability to see the real world around them. This can not only lead to accidents but also limit the experience to the virtual world alone.

Enter AR or Augmented Reality. This is a similar technology to VR but it is different in that super-imposes digital visuals on the real world. This creates many interesting possibilities. For instance, users can view marketing content, learn new procedures in real-time through visually guided instruction and highlight areas in view for others to look at. AR is being used in education, healthcare, and marketing. The potential for AR business applications is huge.

MR or Merged Reality is AR on steroids. Users can interact with the digital content superimposed on the real world. This expands the use cases of AR to include military and industry.

Together, these technologies are called Extended Reality (XR) technologies, since they extend our perception of reality into a digital realm. VR, AR and MR can be experienced through your smart phones but dedicated equipment is becoming cheaper.

Among VR, AR and MR, which do you think will prove to be the most useful for business applications?


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