Today Facebook-owned Oculus begins consumer shipments of their Rift VR headset, in many ways marking the beginning of a wave of dedicated consumer virtual reality (VR) products. Two weeks ago TIRIAS Research critically examined the VR and augmented reality (AR) product landscape at SXSW’s VR/AR convergence track (Interactive, Film and Music festival badge holders could all attend), AR/VR Austin (held offsite during SXSW Interactive) and the Game Developer Conference (GDC). We’ll take a step back here and look at look at the dynamics of the nascent AR and VR markets.
The term virtual reality was first applied to computers and programmed environments in the 1960s and then popularized in the 1980s. Most people have at least a basic understanding the concept of a “virtual world”. However, recent technical advances have created new potential for VR techniques in the fields of augmented reality and very recently, mixed reality (MR). At their core, AR, VR and MR all create 3D models in a computer that are displayed to viewers in various ways and viewers can navigate these models to some extent, even if they are simply scrolling or looking in different directions.
The challenge is that AR and MR are so new that few people can agree on clear, concise definitions for what they mean or how they are different than VR. Equipment, content and service vendors often use AR and MR interchangeably, which means that viewers also are confused as to what they mean.
So we at TIRIAS Research donned our lab jackets and formulated a simple but useful guide to these “realities” products. Here’s our big picture view:
Few people agree on clear definitions for #VR #AugmentedReality & #MixedReality, so TIRIAS Research wrote them
Starting at the edges and working toward the middle:
JASS: Just Another Smartphone Screen (and speaker). Quite a few vendors are working on tethered, lightweight battery powered smartphone second displays that can be read in bright sunlight. Many of them will zip-tie to viewer’s glasses. These displays may prove to be convenient, but they are not part of the “realities” discussion – they are simple eye-level smartphone displays that block out whatever is behind them.