What the heck is Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality?

by First Descent AR • 12 September 2022

Technology is continuously evolving and bringing new capabilities to our everyday life. “Hey Google, what’s the temperature outside” is just one example how companies have brought tech to us that we didn’t even know we needed. The excitement over Augmented Reality (AR) has skyrocketed over the past few years, but for some, it’s still unclear what AR is, does or can do.

Let’s dive into the wonderful world of Augmented Reality and all the things it can do for businesses. You’ll see how you can sell more products, give better demonstrations, teach more complex concepts all while submersing your audience in an engaging and captivating way.

What is Augmented Reality

When people hear Augmented Reality (AR) they can sometimes confuse it with Virtual Reality (VR), so before we continue, let’s see what AR is compared to VR and while we’re at it, let’s define what MR and XR are as well.

Augmented Reality (AR) can be described as experiencing the real world with an overlay of computer-generated digital information. AR takes your view of the real world and adds information on top of it.

Virtual Reality (VR) immerses a user in an entirely simulated environment that shuts out the physical world. Using VR devices such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard, users can observe the artificial world, move around in it, and interact with virtual features or items.

Mixed Reality (MR) lets the user see the real world while also seeing believable virtual objects. Virtual objects are anchored to a point in real space and making it possible to interact with the digital objects. Examples of MR headsets are the HoloLens and the Magic Leap One.

Extended Reality (XR) is an all-encompassing term that includes augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies.

As easy way to think of it is: AR adds things to your existing world and VR changes your world

Many of you will already be familiar with the most successful AR application, Pokémon Go. The viral application that succeeded in getting millions of people off their couches and computer chairs and out into the real world.

Even if you’ve never tried Pokémon Go, you probably use AR more than you think or realize for that matter. AR can be as simple as that filter you use on Instagram or Snapchat to using Apps from Wayfair or IKEA that allow you to place an article of furniture in your home to see how it will fit with your décor.

So how can AR be applied to your business?

Industries like manufacturing, utilities, telecommunications, retail, healthcare, and logistics are increasingly adopting AR for a variety of uses, including assembly, maintenance and repair, education and training, retail showcasing, and diagnostics.

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer of large, heavy expensive parts, you can use AR to help your clients place the parts into their space before making the financial commitment and later on finding out that the item doesn’t fit right.

If your in healthcare or education, AR can help you in various ways to present complex detailed information with an interactive AR experience that rivals real life.

Always have your best salesperson ready to answer client questions with an AR experience that is in store, ready and available to help your clients with prepopulated answers to the most common questions.

If you’re in retail, AR can help your clients try on items virtually to view a virtual store all from the comfort of their home.

If your business has a tech support or customer service group, think of how you could apply AR for virtual troubleshooting.

Or have fun with it and create a scene where clients can take a picture with and share on their social media as part of a content and awareness campaign. Offering your customers a whole experience around their purchase.

If we haven’t talked about your type of business here, there are surely limitless ways that AR and VR have the power to boost awareness, customer service and revenue, and we’d be happy to brainstorm some ideas with you!”

What tools would my customer need to experience AR or VR

VR requires a headset, which for some, that can become quite costly, although more and more companies are getting into the VR space like Snapchat making VR headsets more accessible. For AR, you don’t need an additional device, most individuals already have the technology needed to view an AR experience right in the palm of their hands.... their smartphones or tablets.

Think of AR as another way to make your Apple iPhone or your Samsung Galaxy even more useful. Augmented Reality is a “big deal” because software, hardware and bandwidth have finally converged to a point where AR makes sense. It runs smoothly and reliably on the latest generation of iOS and Android devices.

It is also successful because the biggest tech companies in phone hardware and software, Google and Apple will make it so. They have invested staggering sums of money into their development platforms; AR Core and AR Kit. Moreover, when Tim Cook says on CNBC that “Augmented Reality will make the iPhone even more essential” you know that he’s putting his personal credibility on the line.

Is AR better than VR or vice versa?

It’s not a question of which is better, it’s a matter of asking which is better for my business and my target market. How do you want customers to interact with your content? Do they need to be submersed in a new world as they would in VR or is AR a better fit for the application? Choosing which medium is best, boils down to your goals, objectives, specific project, and customers. There is no right or wrong answer.

It feels like a lot of work – should I even bother?

As a company or organization, utilizing AR in your promotional or education efforts allows you to have a better connection with your customers, and surely we don’t need to tell you how important that is. AR offers an engaging way to capture their attention and give them an immersive experience with your product or services and your brand. Furthermore, this is a technology that is here to stay, so think about the power of being better at this than your competition. Or conversely, think about the impact of your competition launching the next best AR/VR application before you. Ultimately, the least you can do is have a conversation with the experts to explore what the possibilities are.

As the technology continues to adapt and as companies embrace the many values AR can bring to them and their customers, we see more and more companies using AR not just for marketing, but for training and education purposes and beyond.

With so many companies moving to digital platforms and reducing travel or contact due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we foresee that customers will continue to push and demand for more digital solutions, AR is a great way to provide those solutions.

If you’re interested in adding an AR experience for promotional, educational or other purposes, we’d be happy to consult with you and discuss your ideas and goals. And here’s how you do that, get in touch with our AR creative problem solver, Brian Dusselier you can send him an email or connect with him m LinkedIn.

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