VR, AR, MR, AMIRITE?

virtual-realityVR is an abbreviation you’ve probably seen around lately.  It’s been a part of our modern vernacular for some time, but the ability to actually get to experience it was few and far between.  Most chances would be a bulky set-up at a trade shows or an expensive demo at large electronic stores (anyone remember Incredible Universe?).  Slowly, as technology progressed, these got smaller and more affordable, bit by bit.  And now there is AR too! So, what exactly are these succinct abbreviations, and why should you care?

 

VR is short for Virtual Reality, while AR stands for Augmented Reality.  Sounds similar enough, but the difference is that VR will completely take over your field of view with it’s screen, while AR augments what you see, putting new things into our actual view of the world.  The onward march of technology has brought both of these exciting possibilities into a space where they are now small enough to carry with you, and brought the price down to the point that everyday folks are (mostly) able to afford them.

 

Some of the more popular VR get-ups are the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.  Both of these require a powerful computer as well though, so even though the price has gotten much much lower than it used to be, they are still out of reach for a lot consumers (you’re looking at around $600 for the Rift, and $800 for the Vive, and you still need a fancy computer to use either).  But the VR world has grown, as has the proliferation of smartphones.  Google Cardboard is a cheap and surprisingly effective way to experience VR for yourself, with headsets starting around just $15 for the basic Google version.  

 

NSFW (due to language, unless you work at R/West) of someone’s Dad experience VR for the first time :

 

 

AR is a bit newer on the scene, and still changing, but it seems to me like it could find a more widespread adoption.  While VR is amazing, it cuts you off from the rest of the world.  What excites me about AR is that you can still see what is actually around you, but it can add information or visuals on top of what you see.   This allows collaboration between people in real life, but can be supplemented with helpful information.  Or crazy robots.  There are quite a few companies working on different AR offerings, with Microsoft leading the charge with the HoloLens.

 

 

Meanwhile, Intel is working on combining VR and AR into a new acronym which they are calling MR (Merged Reality).  They are calling their foray into this Project Alloy.  http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/18/13673084/intel-microsoft-project-alloy-vr-headset-first-look-mixed-merged-reality

 

It’ll be fun to watch these technologies progress and grow, and even more fun to get to experience them as the get more affordable and smaller.  We’re looking forward to bringing some of these experiences to our clients.  

 

Can’t wait to drink my first virtual beer on the moon!

 

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