Understanding the spectrum from physical reality to virtual reality (VR) is essential in comprehending Mixed Reality (MR). MR exists on this continuum, and it can be classified into Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), each with distinct characteristics.
Continuum of Reality:
The continuum of reality spans from the Physical Reality (the real world we perceive with our senses) to the Virtual Reality (a completely digital, immersive environment). Between these extremes, we find various degrees of mixing the physical and digital worlds. Let’s explore these points along the continuum:
- Physical Reality (PR): This represents the unaltered, real-world environment perceived through our natural senses. In PR, there are no digital overlays or alterations.
- Augmented Reality (AR): AR blends digital elements (e.g., images, sounds, data) with the physical world. Users can see and interact with both the real environment and computer-generated content. Smartphones, AR glasses, and heads-up displays are common AR platforms.
- Mixed Reality (MR): MR combines physical reality with interactive, computer-generated content. Unlike AR, MR digital elements are spatially aware and can interact with the physical environment and vice versa. Users perceive a seamless integration of both worlds. Devices like Microsoft HoloLens exemplify MR technology.
- Virtual Reality (VR): VR creates an entirely digital, immersive environment that replaces the physical world. Users wear VR headsets to be transported to computer-generated simulations. VR is used in gaming, training, and simulations.
Classification of Mixed Reality (MR):
MR can be further classified into two primary categories:
- Augmented Reality (AR): In AR, digital elements are overlaid onto the physical world, enhancing or augmenting the real environment. Users can still see and interact with their physical surroundings while engaging with digital content. Examples include smartphone AR apps, AR navigation systems, and AR glasses.
- Virtual Reality (VR): VR immerses users in entirely digital environments, completely replacing the physical world. Users wearing VR headsets perceive and interact with a computer-generated reality. VR is often used for gaming, training simulations, and virtual tours.
In summary, the continuum of reality encompasses the full spectrum from Physical Reality (PR) to Virtual Reality (VR), with Mixed Reality (MR) occupying the middle ground. MR includes Augmented Reality (AR), where digital elements enhance the real world, and it also extends into MR environments, where physical and digital entities interact seamlessly, providing unique and immersive experiences. Understanding this continuum is fundamental to exploring the diverse applications and possibilities within Mixed Reality technologies.