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Virtual Reality VS. Mixed Reality: What Is It and Why Should You Care

Nov 28
Virtual Reality VS. Mixed Reality: What Is It and Why Should You Care
Virtual reality and mixed reality are hot topics right now. You may be familiar with virtual reality through things such as gaming and immersive experiences at museums.

Mixed reality is less known by name but still quite widely used.

As the name suggests, mixed reality is the ability to mix the two together. Our actual reality and the virtual reality we create combine together to form one experience.

Virtual reality and mixed reality are becoming increasingly popular. So today, we’re going to take a walk into the world of virtual reality and mixed reality and explain what it is and some of the benefits in using it.

It’s time to dive into virtual reality vs. mixed reality: Why is it and why should you care?

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality gives that ability to fall into an experience and engage the senses in a moment of computer conjured happiness. It’s about creating an entire scene or world that you experience as though you are actually participating in it.

Virtual reality encompasses a wide spectrum. You can have real world content such as photos, film, illustration, animation and 3D rendering to create your experience.

Instead of a row of shops or a room you have entered, you may be looking at a market square full of humanoid peacocks out to disco dance on clouds. It might be real, fantasy or a mix of both. It could be completely generated or photographs and film of real life settings artfully stitched together.

When it comes to virtual reality, the opportunities are endless. You are creating a world from scratch and inviting people into it. It is a world in place of the reality you know.


What is mixed reality?

Mixed reality matches real world experiences with technology to create an experience that mixes the two. Mixed reality is anchored and responsive to what happens in the real world.

It is not instead of the real world like virtual reality but something that works hand in glove to make things happen.

This is your classic example of mixed reality using a car windscreen in a vehicle and updating it with vital information for the driver, ala Gran Turismo, only in real life. Such screens are being used in the fight against driver distraction and driver fatigue, two huge killers on the road.

Car manufacturers are using the technology to do everything from detect heart attacks in drivers through to creating a hands-free experience. All are motivated by looking after the health of the driver, warding off common causes of accident and creating a better overall driver experience. By using augmented reality or mixed reality within car design, lives can be saved.

It’s the overlap of what we create as a synthetic world to what is occurring in the real world. And it’s already finding its way into automotive technology, medicine, safety applications, training and more.

Don’t forget augmented reality too

Mixed reality also has a close cousin in augmented reality. The two are often included together as they mix between the real world and the virtual. But the difference is mixed reality is a combining of the two- real world and the virtual. It works in a symbiotic relationship to make things work.

Augmented reality is a situation where the two kinds of worlds are not reliant on each other. It’s over the top of what’s happening as a decoration as opposed to being closely embedded in making things work. Like the icing on the cake as opposed to a key ingredient.


Where can you apply these technologies?

The beauty of virtual reality and mixed reality software and applications is that it works wonders with the human imagination. So just about anywhere you can conjure up an idea, you can apply virtual or mixed reality technology.

For example, car manufactures are using mixed reality technology in the creation of windscreens. These windscreens look almost like the sort of screen you’d expect from the driver view of popular racing games on PlayStation. But instead of giving you the ability to race a Porsche in Monaco against your friends, these mixed reality screens help make driving safer. Manufacturers create screens that display information that assists the driver to judge car performance on the screen.

They can also be used to detect small micro-sleep flutters in eyelids and notify the driver of fatigue, potentially saving lives by spotting and alerting of tiredness.

Real estate agents are using virtual reality to sell apartments and apartment lifestyle to people right off the plan. In the booming real estate markets of Sydney and Melbourne and the invention of luxury downsizing, selling an apartment for the price of a family home may have been difficult, especially with only artist impressions and a display model.

But by using virtual reality, developers and real estate agents can take a walk through to an entirely new level. They can connect the future homeowner or investor with what it’s like to enjoy a luxury apartment. Overcoming objections about space, finishing and the limitations inherent with 2d photos and words, this gives the potential buyer the opportunity to be there.

Or you can track how a web user responds to your website prior to building it. You can repeat the same logic with applications. You can use the ability to capture and translate the usage of your audience into opportunities to improve your products and offerings. You can work out what stands out in a crowded marketplace. And you can design better and faster with research that minimises the assumptions.


Whether it’s a game, a website, a building or a matter of capturing human behaviour, virtual reality and mixed reality create the opportunity to dig in to the human psyche. We can understand how people will respond to the things we create, develop and build without a massive investment of time, cash and resources.

What are other ways that virtual reality and mixed reality can be used?

VR and MR are as clever and as expansive as you need them to be.

Think about gaming virtual worlds like the children’s favourite Club Penguin or places like SecondLife that act as adult playgrounds. They take on personas and actively participate in gaming, quests, currency and even language that are distinct for these worlds.

Your virtual reality might mean putting on the classic visor and fencing against an opponent. Or you could tour a virtual room. It might be 360 shots that give you a tour of a building via a website, such as checking a university campus as an overseas student via a tablet or laptop.

It might be using eye-tracking on product displays to see what people respond to before you put your products on the shelves in a big supermarket. This sort of usage could influence the design, display and even the packaging design of your products for the better via animated concept testing.

Canadian firefighters are even using virtual reality as part of the training for wildfires. And as part of fire camp training for youth interested in a career in fire and rescue to demonstrate what the job entails. In both arenas, virtual reality aids in the recruitment of the right people for the tasks at hand. This in turn saves money in training as well as improves retention rates and training quality. 

Mixed reality and virtual reality- the future is your oyster

By capturing how people respond to virtual and mixed reality environments, we can take a lot of the guess work out of the equation and see exactly people would respond before the first brick is laid.

At Webcoda, we’ve begun digging into the applications of mixed reality and virtual reality for our clients. We’re looking at the ways it can enhance online usage, gathering data from websites, its use in creating applications and more.

If you’re keen on learning more about virtual reality or mixed reality, get in touch! We’re happy to show you around the possibilities! 

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