• Saanvi Malhotra

Code Savvy Presents: VR, AR, and MR

Updated: Aug 23

If you've ever used a goofy filter on Snapchat or Instagram, you're already familiar with a technology called Augmented Reality. If you've ever donned a headset and suddenly your living room became a dirty old warehouse with zombies attacking you, you know what Virtual Reality is...


In this month's episode of the Code Savvy Presents Podcast, we chat with Brian Skalak of REM5 VR. Brian and the rest of the team at REM5 are revolutionizing the world of VR and AR by making them more accessible and inclusive through their programming.

You can also learn a little more about these innovative new technologies by checking out the blog post below, written by Code Savvy intern, Saanvi Malhotra.


Introduction


You might have heard the terms VR, MR, and AR without really knowing what they mean or the differences between them. This article will outline and provide a basic understanding of the definition, the differences between these three terms as well as practical applications they hold in the real world.


What are VR, MR, and AR?


VR stands for Virtual Reality, which is defined by Lenovo as an interactive, computer-generated depiction of a real or artificial world or activity. Mixed Reality (MR) is defined as an interactive depiction or view of combined real-world and computer-generated elements, while Augmented Reality (AR) is defined as a real-world view with additional, computer-generated enhancements. While definitions of these three change depending on who you ask, it is pretty much understood that VR, AR, and MR are taking over our world.


The differences


Although VR, MR, and AR are often used interchangeably, they all have distinct differences. Firstly, Virtual Reality often means that the entire physical world is shut out and the experience is one of total immersion in the digital world. This means the user will be completely transported to infinite virtual environments that might be made up or based on real places. For example, a user using a VR device could transport themself to Paris or ride on the back of a dragon.


In Mixed Reality, there are both objects from the physical world and objects from the digital world. As the name implies, it is a mix between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Lastly, in Augmented Reality, objects from the digital world are often added to a live camera view of something. Oftentimes, this takes place using the cameras on our cellphones.


Examples

Augmented Reality


The most well-known and popular examples of AR are Pokemon Go, which is a popular game, and Snapchat lenses. However, Augmented Reality’s use spans much further than the gaming and social media industries. AR has revolutionized industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and education as well. A great example of how AR can be used in a practical real-world situation is AR technology superimposing an image of the heat signature of a patient’s veins on their skin which makes it easier for nurses to locate a vein to draw blood for blood tests. This particular technology is manufactured by the company AccuVein and reportedly increases the likelihood of the needle successfully finding the vein on the first attempt by 350%. Another possible example of AR technology would be if you could view your own living room in real time but be able to virtually enhance different furniture to see how it would look in the room.


Virtual reality


There are many different Virtual Reality technologies available in our world today that can transport users into many different environments. Some of these VR devices include Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. In a VR experience, the physical world is completely blocked out. So, for example, you could immerse yourself in outer space, and with a VR headset on, it would feel like you were physically floating in space amongst the stars. These very immersive environments can often generate very strong and real emotional reactions and responses even though they are technically “fake.” For example, if you are scared of heights but walking on a plank on the top of a skyscraper, it is very likely you will have a strong fearful reaction.


Mixed reality


Mixed reality technology is fairly new and just starting to take off in the market. One of the most notable mixed reality devices is Microsoft’s HoloLens. Mixed reality allows the real world and digital elements to interact. For example, you could be in a virtual environment that is a real-time view of your living room but you are able to place a virtual cup on top of a real table.


Tutorials


If this article sparked your interest in VR in building VR or AR applications, there are some links below that might be useful.


This video by Justin P Barnett gives a good quick introduction on how to get started with becoming a VR developer:

This video provides a recent, concise, and informative way to start making VR games:

Here is a very helpful courses from Free Code Camp that explores AR:


This video is a shorter but still helpful tutorial that outlines how to create an AR app:


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