What does MR mean in reality?

Author: May

Mar. 07, 2024




Tags: Sports & Entertainment

VR? AR? MR? Sorry, I’m confused.

To help you get your head around the jargon du jour, we’ve pulled together this handy guide to what all these acronyms actually mean, and why they are not the same thing.

Virtual reality (VR)

The Wikipedia view: Virtual reality (VR), which can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, replicates an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact in that world.

Foundry’s interpretation: Virtual reality is the umbrella term for all immersive experiences, which could be created using purely real-world content, purely synthetic content or a hybrid of both.

This is where the industry is getting excited right now. Content-viewing hardware, a.k.a. head-mounted displays (HMDs), ranges from Google Cardboard right up to HTC Vive. The market here is hot, hot, hot and the media is full of news about launches. Second only to excitement about headsets is excitement about cameras. Nokia OZO launched in December, GoPro has its Odyssey—a collaboration with Google Jump, Ricoh has Theta, and there’s also Bublcam and Giroptic.

360° video

The Wikipedia view: Immersive videos, more recently known as 360° videos or 360 degree videos, are video recordings of a real-world scene, where the view in every direction is recorded at the same time. During playback the viewer has control of the viewing direction.

Foundry’s interpretation: 360° video is an immersive experience using pre-filmed real-world content as the central media. 360° video is a version of VR created with only real-world content.

Here lies a lot of confusion as the industry deliberates on the definition of terminology. The upshot of this debate is that some say that 360° video is not the same as “real VR” and the two terms are not interchangeable.

Our view is that 360° video, as an immersive experience, is one type of VR that sits happily alongside non-real-world content for VR, which we’ll get onto now.

Computer-generated VR (CG VR)

That brings us nicely to CG VR, which as the name suggests refers to VR content that is computer-generated (i.e. not real-world). Wikipedia doesn’t have a direct definition for CG VR so we’ll jump straight into our own view.

Foundry interpretation: CG VR is an immersive experience created entirely from computer-generated content. CG VR can be either pre-rendered and therefore not reactive—in this way it is very similar to 360° video—or rendered in real time using a games engine.

There is also a third type of VR, which is a hybrid between 360° video and CG, where an immersive experience is created using a blend of both content types. Much like in the film industry today there’s no real name for this ‘third way’ of creation, but audiences are used to the concept of visuals being created using a combination of both real-world and CG content. Some of the most exciting VR content being created today sits in this third category.

Augmented reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone. Examples of augmented reality experiences include Snapchat lenses and the game Pokemon Go. 

Virtual reality (VR) implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world. Using VR devices such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard, users can be transported into a number of real-world and imagined environments such as the middle of a squawking penguin colony or even the back of a dragon.

In a Mixed Reality (MR) experience, which combines elements of both AR and VR, real-world and digital objects interact. Mixed reality technology is just now starting to take off with Microsoft’s HoloLens one of the most notable early mixed reality apparatuses.

Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term that covers all of the various technologies that enhance our senses, whether they’re providing additional information about the actual world or creating totally unreal, simulated worlds for us to experience. It includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies.

Written by Nancy Gupton. September 21, 2017. Updated by Patrick J. Kiger, January 6, 2020. 

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