Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality (XR): What are They?

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Here at Holon Studios, we are hard at work at creating something that we believe will bring the magic of the latest tech to the City of Monterey: Virtual Reality!

We are very excited to bring such exciting technology to our home in Monterey for locals and tourists alike to enjoy. Yet despite all the recent talk and news about Virtual Reality expanding at such a rapid pace in various industries, there are still many people that may not know about it. And if you have just graced our website by chance and are not familiar with the terms Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality, you might be asking yourself…what does this all mean? What is a virtual, augmented, or mixed reality? What can I expect when I first put on my Oculus headset to play for the first time?

Let’s get down to a few basic definitions of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR).

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality is a visual, 3-D computer simulation that makes the user feel like they are transported to a new place entirely. It replaces what you already see in your reality in real-time with a completely different virtual environment while often providing realistic sights and sounds. This can be a fictional, cartoony, made-up world, or a real place far away place that you have never seen before. Immersion into Virtual Reality is often done wearing a specialized headset like the Oculus or HTC VR headset that wraps around your head and covers your eyes. VR gear typically comes with a handheld device with a joystick and a couple of buttons to help you navigate yourself in the virtual world and perform other actions. If you are familiar with videogames, you can think of playing a VR as playing and controlling as yourself as a character in the first-person view navigating the exciting virtual world!   


Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality is a 3-D graphical simulation that presents the user a new artificial reality over their existing one while supplying new sensory inputs to enhance the experience. It’s similar to Virtual Reality, but it adds to it. While being immersed in this visual 3-D world, you can interact with your objects in that simulated environment to your will. Augmented Reality is designed to overlay our real world with a new, different world, but replaces real-world objects with artificial ones for the user to manipulate or interact with. This makes it feel like these objects are real through your headset, tablet, or mobile app. These objects do not interact with real-world ones. AR in this day and age is being utilized a lot more in the mobile gaming industry. Believe it or not, Pokemon Go is an excellent example of a game using Augmented Reality! The game replaces your real-world surroundings with a fictional pokemon world filled with gyms, stops, and more for you to interact with.


Mixed Reality (MR)

Mixed Reality (MR) is in the name; it is a medium that combines both elements of augmented virtual realities. This means that it combines our reality with a virtual one to create a new, unique environment for us to immerse ourselves in. Just like VR and AR, we explore as our own character and interact with artificial objects as if they are real. Instead of replacing our real world, it takes visual elements of it and MIXES it with virtual objects, blurring the lines between what is real and what is virtual. They often coexist and interact with one another to create a very unique experience. Unlike Augmented Reality where often virtual objects are designed to replace real ones, objects in Mixed Reality co-exist and interact with real-world objects. Because of the nature of this virtual technology, it is often referred to as “cross” or “hybrid” reality.


Extended Reality (XR)

Extended Reality (XR) is a recently made umbrella term referring to both VR, AR, and Mixed Reality, especially when talking about a game or computer technology that incorporates some or all of these medium’s elements. In some cases, you can think of XR as an advanced extension of Mixed Reality in which all real and virtual world elements are combined.

As you may have noticed through reading this, there is a lot of similar elements and overlap in these terms that may confuse you. Just like a lot of technological mediums, the rapid growth and development of Extended Reality will present new ways to play! For all we know, tomorrow might bring a new additional group into Extended Reality that could be groundbreaking for the industry! There is always something new to learn every day. And if you are reading this and still having a hard time wrapping your head around the whole concept of XR, we encourage you to do some further research into these terms and one day try out a VR, AR, or MR game out for yourself!   

Although our studio’s primary focus right now is creating VR games, we are also in the works of creating AR and MR games and more! Our mission is to not only create XR media to bring new, exciting tech entertainment for Monterey but to make Monterey the booming tech hub that can compare to the Bay Area! 

Stay tuned for more about the magic of XR and videogames and why they all matter as we progress into 2020. We are Tomorrow’s Fun Now.

With appreciation,
The Holon Studios Team

Photo credit: Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash