I admit it. I’m crazy excited about virtual reality and mixed reality. It’s the evolution of the day dreams I’ve had since I was a kid reading Tom Swift books. To see that we are on the path to all this becoming actual reality in my lifetime is like all my sci fi books coming to life all at once.
Terms to Remember:
360-Degree Video, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality
360-degree video: In the most basic terms, this is live video that is shot with cameras that have lenses pointing in all directions. To get the idea, imagine that you are watching a movie but you can look all around the scene: right, left, above, below, and even behind you. Most often you are a viewer, not a participant. Google Cardboard is an inexpensive tool that let’s you view 360-degree videos with a smart phone.
Virtual reality: Abbreviated to VR, this is most often a fully simulated experience controlling 100% of the viewer’s sight and hearing. The simplest comparison is to imagine you are dropped into a video game and can participate as one of the characters, actively interacting with the things you see and hear. Usually this experience takes some sort of head mounted screen (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung GearVR) and other gadgets like cameras or gloves to make you feel immersed in the experience.
Mixed reality: Also called augmented reality, MR combines aspects of your real word with additional graphics or information. If you’ve seen movies where the character sees the real world through a screen that provides additional data (Iron Man, Terminator), that’s what we’re talking about. The big difference here is that MR has an awareness of where you are, either through a camera, GPS, or other sensor technology. Mixed reality can happen with a smart phone, a more advanced system like Microsoft Hololens, or not-quite-real technology that recognizes you when you walk in the room. Continue reading…