Immersive technology is dramatically changing the way we view the world around us and the way that we work. 20 years ago, few would have heard of Virtual Reality, let alone Augmented or Assisted Reality, and probably fewer believe that it would be transforming the way industries operate, or providing life-enhancing experiences for its users.
But what are the different immersive realities and how do they vary? Let’s take a look:
Assisted Reality (aR)
Assisted Reality is a relatively new concept that’s changing the way our essential industries work. As part of the Industry 4.0 transformation, smart, digital devices are improving working practices and enabling better-connected systems within manufacturing and supply chain businesses.
Assisted Reality (aR) works by adding an extra layer of information to the user’s existing field of vision. It’s been designed to deliver data in the form of text, images, videos and diagrams and to enhance the situational awareness of the user. Assisted Reality devices allow the user to view information via a screen, hands-free. Imagine smart glasses, heads up displays in vehicles and head-mounted wearables with micro-displays.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality expands our physical world by adding layers of digital information over it and changing our perception. You’ve most likely used your smartphone to view virtual objects in the real world, in real-time. Remember Pokemon Go, the game where people were so absorbed in ‘catching’ characters that they crashed their cars? It’s a prime example of AR technology and its role in mainstream culture.
Like Assisted Reality, Augmented Reality is designed to enhance the user’s experience and is used in medicine, retail, education, design, logistics and more.
Mixed Reality (MR)
Mixed Reality takes Augmented Reality a step further, as users can interact virtually with real-world and physical objects. A hybrid of reality and virtual reality, it’s where real and virtual worlds meet to create new environments and visualisations. Also known as hybrid or extended reality, MR enables users to see the world around them through a headset, whilst interacting with a virtual environment.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Perhaps the most well-known immersive technology, Virtual Reality allows users to become completely absorbed in an artificial, computer-generated environment. Creating a sense of psychological presence, people are able to interact with their environment using a head-mounted display or headset.
Assisted vs Augmented Reality
Though both Assisted and Augmented Reality technologies can overlay information, enhance the user’s environment, and be used to increase efficiency, Assisted Reality displays information through smaller devices and doesn’t display 3D graphics. Unlike Augmented Reality, Assisted Reality doesn’t change what the user is seeing, its benefits lie in delivering relevant information right into the eyes and ears of the user, whilst leaving their hands free to work.
Though undoubtedly impressive, Augmented Reality technologies aren’t always the best solution for workplace tools, particularly when practicality and safety are key. Detailed, overlaid graphics can be distracting when workers need to focus on what’s in their immediate field of vision. Wearable devices with Assisted Reality technology are designed specifically with safety in mind. Voice-enabled, durable aR headsets allow entirely hands-free operation. Workers can control their devices by saying exactly what they see.
Designed for use with safety glasses, hard hats and a wide range of other PPE, RealWear’s leading Assisted Reality technology enables the delivery of the right information at precisely the right time, with safety and productivity at the forefront.
In contrast, Augmented Reality is leading the way in exploring environments. Its use in apps is increasingly popular with users pointing their mobile devices at objects or sites to view the superimposed content on a screen. AR is transforming the way that users interact with their environments, offering extra information and enhanced experiences.
Although more recent, Assisted Reality’s efficacy lies in its simplicity and its power to support millions of people in performing their day-to-day activities.
Together, these groundbreaking technologies are leading the Industry 4.0 transformation, enabling staff across companies to work safely, be better connected, and improve working practices for businesses across the world.