What do VR, AR, XR and MR mean? And is it really called VR glasses or VR headset? Explore the VR jargon with us!

What does Virtual Reality VR mean: We take a look at terms like VR, AR, XR and MR

Virtual Reality (VR) is a fascinating world filled with technical terms and abbreviations that can be difficult to understand for the uninitiated. For example, what does VR, Six Degrees of Freedom (6DoF) or Mixed Reality MR mean? It may sound complicated, but you’ll soon have all the answers! Here we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common terms and expressions in the world of VR, and provide some background and history to make them easier to understand. We’ll start by taking a look at the concepts of VR goggles and VR headsets.

VR glasses and headsets

VR goggles and VR headsets are two terms that are often used interchangeably and have the same meaning. There are different types of VR goggles/VR headsets, ranging from simpler devices to more advanced ones that provide a high level of interactivity and graphics.

Simpler VR glasses, such as Google Cardboard, use your smartphone to create a VR experience. These simpler variants of VR goggles/VR headsets are lighter and cheaper but do not offer the same level of interactivity and graphics as a full VR headset.

VR headsets / VR glasses such as Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest 3, Pico 4 and Pimax Crystal are more advanced devices. They have built-in screens as well as sensors that track your movements to create an immersive experience. These headsets are more expensive but provide a much better graphical and interactive experience.

The VR headset is the heart of the modern VR experience, offering high-quality visual and interactive experiences.

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality, or VR, is a technology that allows users to step into a digitally created world that feels real. By using VR headsets, users can not only see but also interact with 3D environments as if they were actually there. VR is currently used in many areas, including gaming, education, simulations and much more.

To really understand what VR means and understand the roots of VR, you have to go back to the 1960s when Morton Heilig created “Sensorama”. “Sensorama” was a machine that combined 3D images, scents, wind and vibrations to create an immersive experience. The first commercially available VR device, the Virtual Boy, was launched by Nintendo in 1995, but it was only in the 2010s with the launch of the Oculus Rift that VR really started to take off.

The origins of today’s VR can be found in Morton Heilig’s Sensorama

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality, or AR, is a technology that overlays digital objects on the real world. Think Pokémon Go – the game that became a global sensation by allowing players to catch virtual Pokémon in the real world via their smartphones.

AR is used not only for games but also in education, entertainment and industry. For example, AR can help technicians see digital instructions overlaid on machines they are working on, making repairs easier and faster.

Mixed Reality (MR)

Mixed Reality, or MR, is a technology that combines elements of both VR and AR. MR creates a hybrid environment where physical and digital objects can coexist and interact in real time. Meta Quest 3 is an example of a headset that supports MR, which means you can see and interact with both the real world and virtual objects simultaneously.

An early example of MR is Microsoft’s HoloLens. HoloLens uses holographic technology to create digital objects that can be integrated with the real world. This opens up a wide range of applications, from design and prototyping to gaming and education.

Extended Reality (XR)

Extended Reality, or XR, is an umbrella term covering all technologies that combine real and virtual environments. It includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), and represents the full spectrum of interaction between real and digital worlds.

XR provides the user with a flexible and dynamic experience that blurs the boundaries between physical and digital reality. By using XR headsets and other devices, users can engage in immersive games, educational programs, training simulations and many other applications. XR has the potential to revolutionize how we work, learn and entertain.

Historically, XR has been developed from the same technological innovations as VR and AR. While VR and AR have developed in parallel, XR has brought these technologies together. In doing so, XR has created a more comprehensive and diverse experience. Technology companies such as Meta and Microsoft are driving the development of XR by creating advanced headsets and platforms that enable seamless transitions between real and virtual environments.

XR represents the future of digital interaction, where the possibilities are endless and where we can expect increasingly sophisticated and integrated experiences in our daily lives.

Other Important Terms and Expressions

  • Field of View (FOV): This is the visual area that can be seen through the VR headset and is measured in degrees. A larger FOV means a more immersive experience.
  • Six Degrees of Freedom (6DoF): This refers to the ability to move freely in three dimensions – forward/backward, up/down and left/right. This while being able to turn the head around three axes (yaw, pitch, roll). Most modern VR headsets offer 6DoF.
  • Room-Scale VR: A type of VR experience where the user can move freely within a given area. The headset tracks the user’s movements in this space, providing a more interactive and immersive experience.
  • Haptic Feedback: Technology that provides tactile feedback through vibrations or other movements. This makes the VR experience more realistic by simulating touch and feel.

Concluding thoughts

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Extended Reality and Mixed Reality represent some of the most exciting technological advances of our time. They offer new ways to interact with digital worlds in a way that was previously science fiction. By understanding these terms and what e.g. VR means we can better appreciate how far we have come. Perhaps we can even understand what the future might hold for these incredible technologies.

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