Are you getting your AR mixed up with your RR, or your SV mixed up with your VR?

VR_ yclist

Back when I was a computer science graduate in my 20s, Virtual Reality Markup Language (or VRML) was the latest tech that everyone had to have.

I was enamored by it. My dissertation was a fully functioning portal which could transport the user from the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, to the Great Pyramid of Giza, to Sherwood Forest in England.

VRML now lies as an example of an “abandoned technology.” The processing power, nature of the browser and plug-ins required meant that the technology never gained wide acceptance.

Fast forward 20 years and the public has grown more accustomed to virtual reality and augmented reality as concepts and, increasingly, as parts of everyday life.

But with the maturing of these technologies, the use of related acronyms has proliferated, so here is a quick guide to the most useful terms:

AR = Augmented Reality.  Where reality is overlayed with virtual images.

  • Google’s new Tilt Brush is a great example of AR. Check it out in this promo video or try it yourself.
  • Even translation has now moved to augmented reality. Take a picture of a sign that’s in a foreign language, and this Google app will replace the foreign text with the translation.

AV = Augmented Virtuality. Where real-world objects are integrated into a virtual world in real-time.

  • The integration of gyroscopes — look at gaming steering wheels — into a virtual world is an example of AV, in that real-world sensors are controlling a virtual environment.

DR = Diminished Reality. Where the view of reality is lessened.

  • An example here could be a welder’s helmet or sunglasses that block out harmful rays.

MR/HR = Mixed (or Merged) Reality/Hybrid Reality (since 1994)

RR = Real reality. The everyday universe that we experience.

SV = Spherical Video. Not to be confused with virtual reality, SV shows real-world (RR) images in a 360-degree format.

VR = Virtual Reality. Google define this as, “a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way.”

XR = Extended reality. A superset of all of the above.

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