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VR vs AR, MR, CR

VR vs AR, MR, CR: What’s the Difference for Business?

Even though extended reality technologies started flooding into the tech landscape decades ago, many businesses are still unclear about their real-world application. So it’s interesting to compare the value of VR vs AR and other options and clarify how companies can capitalise on these technologies.

UPD, May 18th. With a view to providing clarity over the options available on today’s market, we’ve compared VR vs AR and other extended reality technologies focusing on their meaning for businesses.

Virtual reality (VR)

Every bit a mainstream concept, VR requires the use of a device - usually a headset or eyewear - to produce a computer-generated environment. It’s hard to ignore its use and promotion by gaming titans like PlayStation and Oculus, but there are plenty of other areas where VR is being applied.

Automotive firms have led the adoption of VR through its use within product visualisation, where designers and engineers can review a car’s design, usability and functionality prior to its construction. Customers can also enjoy using VR solutions to experience a realistic, vivid feel of their future car before buying one.

According to the eMarketer's new report, 52.1 million people in the US will use VR, and 83.1 million people will use AR at least once per month. Check out our latest article on how to create a VR app that delivers the best value for your users.

A similar tactic is used by healthcare professionals in examining a virtual human body, which prevents any unwanted learning curves when taking on a real-life case.

Businesses are using VR as a means of selling more products and services. Consider its use across the fields like retail, real estate or tourism, where holidaymakers can review a location or hotel before deciding whether it’s right for them.

Tipped for a worth of $23 billion by 2021, according to TechCrunch, expect to see VR becoming all the more prevalent within the next few years. If you are unclear about where to start with VR development and adoption, these 3 tools can have you covered for all types of VR apps.

Augmented reality (AR)

As opposed to VR’s construction of a virtual environment, augmented reality (AR) blends digital content with a real-world view. The success of ‘Pokemon Go’ and demise of Google Glass have massively impacted recognition for AR, although businesses have long known of its potential.

Take its use by Spotify in allowing consumers to listen to music by holding their phones up to Coca Cola products, or Argos’s unleashing of rich product information and one-click ordering via the scanning of items. Retail could be the next industry to take a huge leap with AR by allowing its customers to place items like homeware within a fictional setting.

To put its potential into perspective, AR is estimated to be worth $83 billion by 2021, making it 113% more valuable than VR.

Mixed reality (MR)

MR is an overlay of synthetic content on a real-life image. Though similar to AR, the mixed version sees digital elements interacting with those in the real world.

Healthcare could be a key adopter of MR. Microsoft’s ‘Hololens’ device is being used within University College London to generate anatomical holograms for the planning of complicated procedures. Of interest to developers could be floating user interfaces which allow for the manipulation of data via hand motions. These would utilise MR to connect information with an operator. Below you can see how Hololens can aid retailers, used as a handy tool for in-store inventory management.

"Cinematic reality" (CR)

Capping off the list is CR or the so-called "cinematic reality", a futuristic digital experience including near-realistic digital elements applied to supplement a real-world environment.

The notion represents something of a monopoly for Magic Leap - a group whose hype factor led it to securing $542 million in funds from Google and other investors. The end goal for CR’s main player is to produce a more believable 3D experience than anything else on the market. Magic Leap’s CEO Rony Abovitz has been quick to disassociate it from VR and AR while vouching for its use in industries away from gaming.

"Those are old terms – virtual reality, augmented reality. They have legacy behind them," Abovitz commented the South Florida Business Journal as the initial round of funding had been closed. "They are associated with things that didn’t necessarily deliver on a promise or live up to expectations. We have the term cinematic reality because we are disassociated with those things. … When you see this, you will see that this is computing for the next 30 or 40 years."

Education is one field where it sees great potential, allowing for better visualisation of objects and events in lessons. Aside from this, it will be worth keeping an eye on the Magic Leap's future projects, as the company announced a preview of its software development kit and “creator portal in March 2018.


Extended reality technologies evolve rapidly shifting from niche to mainstream use. We already see them conquering domains beyond entertainment and gaming. Within healthcare, automotive, advertising, education and retail, VR, AR, MR are applied to enhance experiences, engage customers and lower the risks associated with real-world trials. The best action for businesses is to see where these can impact their own workings and let the testing commence.

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