Extended reality is rapidly developing technology, and today more and more different enterprises apply XR solutions to increase their efficiency. According to P&S Intelligence, in 2021 the XR market was estimated at 28 USD billions, and by 2030 it will be estimated at 1000 USD billions.
Efficient application of new technologies requires a clear understanding of their possibilities, functions, and limitations. With no understanding, companies might face some difficulties. Like, for example, excessive or insufficient functionality, unjustified expectations, and incorrect tasks for XR solutions.
That’s why we decided to discuss the meaning of virtual, augmented, and mixed realities in details and what’s the difference between them.
A Brief Issue Review
If virtual reality completely immerses a VR headset user in digital world, augmented reality superimposes virtual elements into physical world.
Mixed reality has similar traits, that’s why MR is often combined with AR in one category, and you can see it in our website. And sometimes, due to the similarities of two technologies, some people can’t see the difference between augmented and mixed reality, and don’t completely realize how these two technologies work.
Extended Reality As An Umbrella Term
At first, let’s figure out the concept of extended reality. Extended reality is an umbrella term, which unites virtual, augmented, and mixed realities, as well as other technologies, which can be created in the future. The key common feature of technologies mentioned above is an immersion effect they create for a user and the changes in the perception of reality with digital solutions.
Brief Information About Virtual Reality
So, let’s begin with VR. Virtual reality is a digital space, in which a person immerses themselves, using VR goggles, and interacts with digital objects with hands, controllers, or sight. Some smartphones also provide a possibility to use virtual reality. Moreover, some models come complete with special equipment, that allows consumer use as a real VR headset. Also, in virtual reality, a user is able to communicate with other people using avatars.
“Your perception of the world can be warped,” said Phia, virtual host of YouTube channel The Virtual Reality Show, “as you realize your body responds to what it perceives as real, not necessarily what is. There’s a great video that demonstrates people using VR for the first time, where they walk a plank for atop a skyscraper. Their brains respond to the experience, thinking that it’s real, making them hesitant to walk out of the plank, despite it being an illusion.”
In business, VR is used for remote work or training, where workers learn how to handle equipment properly and communicate with customers and business partners.
How Augmented Reality Works
With augmented reality, digital elements are overlaid in a physical environment. This process is carried out with the help of a smartphone, tablet screen, or smart glasses. One of the very first and most popular examples of using AR is the mobile game Pokemon Go, where a player looks for digital creatures, hidden in the real world.
“A smartphone shares its location and can place a model and fix it in a space. And you can walk around this object, look from different sides. But, in fact, how does it happen? When you move to the right with the smartphone in your hands, a device changes its location with you. It can calculate its own position in relation to the digital model. So, we have an impression, that the model stays on its place, and the phone moves around it,” said Oleksii Volkov, the XR department head of our company.
Augmented reality nowadays is widely used for training, exhibitions, and marketing. Also, AR is applied for designing navigation, equipment assembly, and operating instructions.
In general, there are four types of augmented reality:
- AR with markers. Images and items are used as markers to activate AR on a device. The AR Watches Mobile app allows trying on NFT models of watches with bracelet marker, that can be printed and be worn on a wrist.
- Markerless AR. This type of the technology uses navigation, that allows AR apps to orientate in space and place virtual objects on a location. These AR apps can use GPS, digital compass, etc. Samsung WebAR is the one of examples of markerless AR apps.
- AR projections. Here virtual objects are superimposed on real items, using projections. Lightform developed AR projections where houses are used as background for showing 3D illusions, like in this video, for example.
- AR, that enables real object recognition algorithms. It augments or completely replaces the real object with digital data. These AR apps can also be used in healthcare, where AR projections of internal organs are superimposed on a patient’s body. Sync AR by SNAP (Surgical Navigation Advanced Platform) is a device that places digital versions of internal structures on a human body during surgery.
The Way Mixed Reality Extends Real World
Mixed reality, in its turn, combines physical and virtual worlds, places digital objects in reality, and allows users to interact with them. For mixed reality, you can use the same MR headsets you usually use for AR and some VR headsets, like Meta Quest Pro.
According to the article on the website of Microsoft, the company which released Hololens for the first time in 2018, mixed reality is created according to such principles:
- Real space maps and markers, that allow to place a virtual object;
- A possibility to track an MR headset user’s sight, hands movement, and speech;
- Recreation of virtual space sounds, just like in VR;
- A possibility to place objects both in virtual and real spaces;
- A collaboration of MR headset users on the same 3D objects.
Mixed reality is often used in architecture, engineering and construction, design, healthcare, and many other fields.
We can highlight two types of mixed reality:
- Adding virtual objects into physical world. In this case, MR really resembles AR. But in mixed reality, there are more possibilities to interact with virtual object. During TED-Talk in Amsterdam, Beerend Hierk, explained how MR works, using mixed reality app for medical students as an example.
“Our application allows me to see a holographic three-dimensional model of the leg and the foot right here, in front of me. I can walk around and explore it in all its dimensions. I can select, but also hide structures, like bones and muscles. And if you would wear a Hololens too, you would be able to see the same model, as me. And we would be able to study the ankle together. What’s really cool is that if you move your ankle, the holographic ankle moves with you”.
- Adding real objects into virtual world. Usually, this type of mixed reality is applied in games, remote work, and other fields. For example, Immersed, a VR-office, allows a headset user to create additional digital screens for a physical laptop and transfer a real keyboard into virtual conference. In this video, you can see how this program works with the newest headset, Meta Quest Pro.
Augmented Reality vs Mixed Reality
Having understood the definitions of the three types of immersive technologies, let’s try to find out what are the actual main common and distinctive features of AR and MR.
At first glance, these technologies are almost identical. Even Wikipedia provides one of the definitions of mixed reality as synonymous of AR. Yes, both technologies give possibility to place a virtual object into real environment and observe it from different angles, and also allow a user to receive additional inforrmation about it.
But, on the other hand, differences between AR and MR are evident. In his short video, famous influencer and entrepreneur Bernard Marr said, that in AR you can emphasize certain physical object and provide it with additional information with digital object.
“So, that’s augmented reality,”said Marr, “where these digital images stay pretty much in place, and you can’t change them. You just point at a building, and these images pop up”.
Meanwhile, in MR you can place digital objects into real world as well, but there’s a possibility for different manipulation: increasing the size, changing the shape and design, augmenting them with additional details, etc.
“So, just imagine placing a digital drumkit into your room,” explained Marr. “And then, you have digital sticks that you project into your hands, and you can now play the drums and hear the music. This is possible with mixed reality”.
Moreover, mixed reality gives a user much more than playing virtual musical instrument or creating digital document in MR headset. Mixed reality provides a possibility to work on 3D objects both in real and virtual environment. With MR, a user can digitalize and transfer not just real room details, but a whole real room into a virtual space. You can see how it works in this video by Microsoft.
So, we finally found out the main difference between VR, AR, and MR. If virtual reality immerses a headset user into a digital world, AR and MR allow them to place 3D objects into real space. But, at the same time, mixed reality gives more expanded possibilities to interact with digital objects and the digital world.
Enthusiasts have introduced a remarkable feature that combines Sora’s video-generating capabilities with ElevenLabs’ neural network for sound generation. The result? A mesmerizing fusion of professional 3D locations and lifelike sounds that promises to usher in an era of unparalleled creativity for game developers. How It Works In the context of game development, it should have looked like this: Capture Video with Sora: People start by capturing video content using Sora, a platform known for its advanced video generation capabilities. Luma Neuron Transformation: The captured video is then passed through the Luma neuron. This neural network works its magic, transforming the ordinary footage into a spectacular 3D location with professional finesse. Unity Integration: The transformed video is seamlessly imported into Unity, a widely-used game development engine. Unity’s versatility allows for the integration of the 3D video locations, creating an immersive visual experience that goes beyond the boundaries of traditional content creation. Voilà! The result is nothing short of extraordinary – a unique 3D location ready to captivate audiences and elevate the standards of digital content. A Harmonious Blend of Sights and Sounds But the innovation doesn’t stop there. Thanks to ElevenLabs and its state-of-the-art neural network for sound generation, users can now pair the visually stunning 3D locations with sounds that are virtually indistinguishable from reality. By simply describing the desired sound, the neural network works its magic to create a bespoke audio experience. This perfect synergy between Sora’s visual prowess and ElevenLabs’ sonic wizardry opens up a realm of possibilities for creators, allowing them to craft content that not only looks stunning but sounds authentic and immersive. OpenAI’s Sora & ElevenLabs: How Will They Impact Game Development? The emergence of tools like OpenAI’s Sora and ElevenLabs sparks discussions about their potential impact on the industry. Amidst the ongoing buzz about AI revolutionizing various fields, game developers find themselves at the forefront of this technological wave. However, the reality may not be as revolutionary as some might suggest. Concerns Amidst Excitement: Unraveling the Real Impact of AI Tools in Game Development Today’s AI discussions often echo the same sentiments: fears of job displacement and the idea that traditional roles within game development might become obsolete. Yet, for those entrenched in the day-to-day grind of creating games, the introduction of new tools is seen through a more pragmatic lens. For game developers, the process is straightforward – a new tool is introduced, tested, evaluated, and eventually integrated into the standard development pipeline. AI, including platforms like Sora and ElevenLabs, is perceived as just another tool in the toolkit, akin to game engines, version control systems, or video editing software. Navigating the Practical Integration of AI in Game Development The impact on game development, in practical terms, seems to be more about efficiency and expanded possibilities than a complete overhaul of the industry. Developers anticipate that AI will become part of the routine, allowing for more ambitious and intricate game designs. This shift could potentially lead to larger and more complex game projects, offering creators the time and resources to delve into more intricate aspects of game development. However, there’s a sense of weariness among developers regarding the constant discussion and hype surrounding AI. The sentiment is clear – rather than endlessly discussing the potential far-reaching impacts of AI, developers prefer practical engagement: testing, learning, integrating, and sharing insights on how these tools can be effectively utilized in the real world. OpenAI — for all its superlatives — acknowledges the model isn’t perfect. It writes: “[Sora] may struggle with accurately simulating the physics of a complex scene, and may not understand specific instances of cause and effect. For example, a person might take a bite out of a cookie, but afterward, the cookie may not have a bite mark. The model may also confuse spatial details of a prompt, for example, mixing up left and right, and may struggle with precise descriptions of events that take place over time, like following a specific camera trajectory.” So, AI can’t fully create games and its impact might be limited. While it could serve as a useful tool for quickly visualizing ideas and conveying them to a team, the core aspects of game development still require human ingenuity and creativity. In essence, the introduction of AI tools like Sora and ElevenLabs is seen as a natural progression – a means to enhance efficiency and open doors to new creative possibilities. Rather than a radical transformation, game developers anticipate incorporating AI seamlessly into their workflow, ultimately leading to more expansive and captivating gaming experiences.
In the realm of art, visual experiences have long been the primary medium of expression, creating a challenge for those with visual impairments. However, a groundbreaking fusion of haptic technology and VR/AR is reshaping the narrative. Explore the innovative synergy between haptic technology and VR/AR and how this collaboration is not only allowing the blind to “see” art but also feel it in ways previously unimaginable. Artful Touch – Haptic Technology’s Role in Art Appreciation Haptic technology introduces a tactile dimension to art appreciation by translating visual elements into touch sensations. Equipped with sensors and precision, haptic gloves enable users to feel textures, contours, and shapes of artworks. This groundbreaking technology facilitates a profound understanding of art through touch, providing a bridge to the visual arts that was once thought impossible for the blind to cross. VR/AR technologies extend this tactile experience into virtual realms, guiding users through art galleries with spatial precision. Virtual environments created by VR/AR technologies enable users to explore and “touch” artworks as if they were physically present. The combination of haptic feedback and immersive VR/AR experiences not only provides a new means of navigating art spaces but also fosters a sense of independence, making art accessible to all. Prague Gallery Unveils a Touchful Virtual Reality Experience The Prague’s National Gallery has taken a revolutionary step towards inclusivity in art with its groundbreaking exhibition, “Touching Masterpieces.” Developed with support of Leontinka Foundation, a charity dedicated to children with visual impairments, this exhibit redefines the boundaries of art appreciation. Visitors to the exhibition, especially those who are blind or visually impaired, are invited to embark on a sensory journey through iconic sculptural masterpieces. Among them are the enigmatic bust of Nefertiti, the timeless Venus de Milo sculpture, and the immortal David by Michelangelo. What sets this exhibition apart is the integration of cutting-edge technology – haptic gloves. These gloves, dubbed “avatar VR gloves,” have been meticulously customized for the project. Using multi-frequency technology, they create a virtual experience where a user’s hand can touch a 3D object in a virtual world, providing tactile feedback in the form of vibrations. The key innovation lies in the gloves’ ability to stimulate different types of skin cells’ tactile responses, ensuring that users, particularly the blind, receive the most accurate perception of the 3D virtual objects on display. As visitors explore the exhibit, they can virtually “touch” and feel the intricate details of these masterpieces, transcending the limitations of traditional art appreciation. Future Possibilities and Evolving Technologies As technology advances, the future holds even more possibilities for inclusive art experiences. The ongoing collaboration between haptic technology and VR/AR promises further refinements and enhancements. Future iterations may introduce features such as simulating colors through haptic feedback or incorporating multisensory elements, providing an even more immersive and enriching experience for blind art enthusiasts. The collaboration between haptic technology and VR/AR is ushering in a new era of art perception, where touch and virtual exploration converge to create a truly inclusive artistic experience. By enabling the blind to “see” and feel art, these technologies break down barriers, redefine traditional boundaries, and illuminate the world of creativity for everyone, regardless of visual abilities. In this marriage of innovation and accessibility, art becomes a shared experience that transcends limitations and empowers individuals to explore the beauty of the visual arts in ways never thought possible.
Just envision a manufacturing environment where every employee can execute tasks, acquire new skills, and thoroughly explore intricate mechanisms without any risk to their health. What if someone makes a mistake? No problem—simply retry, akin to playing a computer game. How is this possible? In the swiftly evolving realm of technology, the convergence of Industry 4.0 and the VR/AR stack is demonstrating its transformative impact! Understanding Industry 4.0 Industry 4.0 represents a profound shift in the manufacturing landscape, driven by the integration of cutting-edge technologies. It embraces the principles of connectivity, automation, and data exchange to create intelligent systems capable of real-time decision-making. Key components include IoT, which interconnects physical devices, AI, enabling machines to learn and adapt, and data analytics for processing vast amounts of information. In the Industry 4.0 framework, machines communicate seamlessly with each other, forming a networked ecosystem that optimizes processes, reduces waste, and enhances overall efficiency. Enhancing Human-Machine Interaction The incorporation of VR and AR into Industry 4.0 significantly amplifies human-machine interaction. VR immerses users in a computer-generated environment, allowing them to engage with machinery and systems in a simulated but realistic space. AR overlays digital information onto the physical world, providing real-time insights and enhancing the operator’s understanding of the operational environment. These technologies empower workers to control and monitor machinery intuitively, reducing the learning curve and enabling more efficient and safer operations. By fostering a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines, Industry 4.0 with VR/AR integration drives productivity and innovation. Read also: Remote Inspection and Control App Realizing Smart Factories and Processes Smart factories, a cornerstone of Industry 4.0, leverage VR and AR technologies to visualize and optimize manufacturing processes. VR simulations offer a dynamic, 3D representation of the production line, allowing operators to monitor every aspect in real-time. AR, on the other hand, superimposes relevant data onto physical objects, aiding in quality control and process optimization. With the ability to detect anomalies promptly, these technologies contribute to predictive maintenance, reducing downtime and ensuring continuous operation. The result is a more agile and responsive manufacturing ecosystem that adapts to changing demands and maximizes resource utilization. Training and Skill Development In the Industry 4.0 era, workforce skills need to align with the demands of a highly automated and interconnected environment. VR and AR play a pivotal role in this paradigm shift by offering immersive training solutions. Virtual simulations replicate real-world scenarios, enabling workers to practice tasks without the risks associated with live operations. This hands-on, risk-free training accelerates the learning curve, enhances problem-solving skills, and instills confidence in workers. Additionally, VR/AR training can be customized to address specific industry challenges, ensuring that the workforce is equipped to handle diverse and evolving scenarios, contributing to a more versatile and adaptable workforce. The fusion of Industry 4.0 and the VR/AR stack not only revolutionizes manufacturing and industry processes but also reshapes the nature of work and skills required. As we navigate the complexities of the fourth industrial revolution, this symbiotic relationship empowers industries to achieve new levels of efficiency, innovation, and competitiveness. The immersive experiences provided by VR and AR, coupled with the intelligent systems of Industry 4.0, pave the way for a future where human potential is augmented by technology, creating a dynamic and responsive industrial landscape. The transformative impact of this integration extends far beyond the shop floor, influencing the very fabric of how we approach production, training, and problem-solving in the digital age.