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All the Rs

by Beth Divine 19 Aug 2018

There are so many acronyms floating about these days that it can be quite hard to keep up. VR this, AR that, MR and CR thrown into the mix too. And now there’s XR, whatever that is! What do they all mean?

Virtual Reality (VR) – as explained elsewhere on this blog – refers to the full creation of a simulated environment in which scenarios play out, with or without interaction from the viewer/ player, depending on whether it is filmed footage or a game with a host of different responses programmed in.

Augmented Reality (AR) – ditto! – is when computer generated effects are ‘placed’ over the real world, seeming to interact with it and respond to changes in the scenery. For example, travelling with an AR overlay of the area can help an explorer to understand more about the city or area they are travelling in, mark key points and even find their way back home afterwards.

Mixed Reality (MR) is a mixture of virtual and augmented reality, with some computer generated environmental elements, with which the CGI object interact in a very realistic appearing fashion.

Cinematic Reality (CR) is a form of augmented reality in which real life is enhanced by amazing and even fantastical elements. Want to see a blue whale swimming through thin air, down your street? Cinematic reality is for you. The promise of CR is that there will be no clunky headset blocking your view of the real world. CR works (or will work – it is still very much in the final stages of development) in much the same way as Google glass, with a pair of spectacles worn to show the CGI overlay. Quite how – or how much – the blue whale (or other CGI features) will interact with the real world is not yet known. But the technology holds promise for gaming, industry and education alike.

All of the above – media through which the real world is blocked out or enhanced by simulated environments is known as XR or X Reality. The X does not stand for anything in particular (although it could be extra or extreme), instead being used as a collective for virtual, augmented, cinematic and mixed realities. It is possible to say that all of these are on a spectrum of X Reality.