Virtual reality headset, augmented reality glasses or even a mixed reality mask: the technologies that we place in front of our eyes are multiplying and the differences are becoming quite blurred. It is time to take stock.
Metavers, virtual, augmented or mixed reality: brands have spent several years increasing their attempts to put an intelligent and connected object before our eyes. Whether it is to try to replace our smartphone or more simply to make us play video games with a new immersion, helmets follow one another with different technologies and whose terms can be confusing. It is time to see things more clearly.
Virtual reality: immerse yourself in another world
The easiest way is to start with virtual reality, which has been around for several years. VR headsets immerse you in another reality, a virtual world. They are used especially in video games as they allow you to create an immersion without possible comparison.
Among the great representatives we find the PlayStation VR 2, the Pico 4 or the Vive helmets or the Valve Index. Once the helmet is on your head, you are fully immersed in a 3D environment with no reality check. Modern helmets incorporate cameras for location in space and to allow viewing of their real environment on demand. However, this is a very limited use case for seeing around you and avoiding touching a wall or obstacle.
Virtual reality is the technology most dominated by manufacturers today and also the cheapest to offer. Apart from video games, we can also mention other use cases: virtual meeting, watching a movie in a virtual cinema or just physical exercise.
Augmented reality: digital in your life
On the other side of the spectrum, there is augmented reality. It is about starting from the very real environment and grafting additional information to help you in your daily life. Here, we’re often talking about goggles and not helmets: you’re not isolated from your surroundings, and the object is designed to be very light and not very restrictive.
Thanks to the transparent screens, the user sees notifications displayed before his eyes or an interface light enough to increase his reality. In general, we only talk here about 2D elements like signal arrows and not virtual 3D objects.
It is known that Google and Microsoft attacked this market with Google Glass and Hololens in the 2010s. This is a technology that is still difficult to master, because it is necessary to miniaturize the transparent screen, maintain performance and master autonomy in a very device. compact and lightweight product.
Mixed reality: bringing the virtual to the real
We come to mixed reality, a new El Dorado powered by Mark Zuckerberg for Meta. Here we use a virtual reality headset, but we improve the cameras, motion recognition and computing power enough to recover and interact with the real environment.
You are not totally cut off from the real world as it continues to appear in front of you through the helmet cameras. The system can then offer you real 3D objects. We then envision uses such as virtual board games or, more simply, creating virtual screens in your own physical work environment. Meta Quest Pro and Pico 4 Enterprise are the first headsets to offer uses in this area.
It is also this sector that Apple should target with its helmet scheduled for the summer of 2023. The firm would work on a device for more than $3,000 to seduce developers.
Today, mixed reality is seen as a future that must pass before we get to a more practical and less expensive use of augmented reality. Eventually, all three names are likely to disappear because all devices will offer each type of use. We can imagine that virtual reality headsets will be the first to disappear in favor of mixed reality.
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