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Do you ever have those dreams that are so lifelike, you’re not sure if your dreaming or in real life? The setting of your dream may seem real, but the figures or actions seem to go beyond what is possible in daily life, causing you to question whether your sleeping or awake? With the advancement of virtual technologies, your dreams may soon become reality. These technologies can alter our surroundings and give us dream-like experiences while we’re awake. As the virtual industry has developed, however more and more terms have emerged in the space which can often become confusing. To relieve some of this confusion, we’re breaking down all the different terms to help you become fluent in virtual.



Augmented Reality (AR)

Currently, AR is the most popular technology in the virtual space. AR brings a virtual dimension to our lives by overlaying images to our existing settings. The great part about AR is that it can easily integrate into our lives, just think how easily Pokémon Go was adopted by users! In using AR, our motions are not limited, and the virtual graphics will adapt based upon our actions. Users can interact with AR very easily, with AR applications available on our smartphones, smart glasses, tablets, etc.

For a more in depth look at AR, check out our previous blog post.


Virtual Reality (VR) 

Unlike AR, Virtual Reality completely removes us from our current surroundings. A totally immersive experience, VR brings us to a whole new world and removes any trace of where we really are. VR experiences can incorporate 4 of the 5 senses (vision, hearing, touch, and smell), thereby making your digital reality as life-like as possible. There are two different ways to experience VR, either with a tethered headset or through a mobile-based headset. Tethered headsets provide the most sophisticated VR experience and, allows the user to walk and move around with the virtual world responding accordingly. Mobile-based headsets, however, have a more limited technological capacity, and users cannot have the same freedom with their actions. Currently, the VR applications available to consumers are the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, and Google Carboard.


Mixed Reality (MR)

 As the name suggests, MR is a combination of AR and VR technology. As a relatively new tech, MR has yet to become fully developed in the market. The idea behind this technology, however, is that it will combine real and virtual worlds and allow aspects form both worlds to interact and react with one another. Thinking back to our life-like dreams, the development of MR will bring us the most dream-like experiences, by making it hard to decipher between what is reality and what is virtual.


Extended Reality (XR)

Recently, the term XR has begun to appear in the virtual space. As a relatively new term, there are still quite a few different ways it is being used. The most popular usage, however, is to use XR as an umbrella term encapsulating the above technologies (AR, VR, MR).  Essentially, XR refers to any virtual technology that is merging to some extent, real and virtual worlds. It is important to remember, that XR does not actually refer to any one specific technology.


As the virtual technology space grows,  the above terms will continue to be refined and new terms may be added. For now, however, this guide should serve as a great foundation to help you build your virtual fluency!


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Emily Cummings

Author Emily Cummings

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