What is Immersive Technology?
Immersive technology refers to technology that simulates a digital environment or objects. This simulated environment can be a copy of real-life objects or places, or it could be entirely fictional.
“Immersive” refers to perception of “being there” – either the object, place, or people. Although there are varying degrees of immersion depending on the technology and equipment used.
Types of Immersive Technology
Within immersive tech, there are sub-segments of technology.
The more established technologies are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). While Mixed Reality (MR) is the newer upcoming technology in the immersive tech space. You may also hear Extended Reality (XR) being used. XR is simply a broad term that includes AR, VR and MR.
So what is the difference between AR, VR and MR?
Augmented Reality is a type of technology whereby digitally created objects or visuals are overlaid over the screen, creating a perception that the object there.
One popular example of AR technology is Snapchat and Instagram filters. These filters allows you to overlay visuals such as dog ears, funky sunglasses, an outrageous hairstyle over your face.
Another popular example of AR technology is Pokemon Go – the Pokemon creatures are overlaid onto where the camera is pointing.
Pokemon Go. The AR game that became a hit in 2016.
The value of AR is not limited to just entertainment. IKEA created an AR mobile app that allows users to visualise IKEA products in their homes, helping their customers to choose the right products to buy.
VR is a digitally simulated environment that can be similar to the real world or completely fictional. Currently, this is achieved with VR headsets or multi-projected environments.
A person in a virtual reality environment is able to look around, move around, and interact with virtual features or items.
At the most basic level, VR incorporates video and audio senses. However, advance technology such as haptic tech allows creators to include other types of senses such as touch.
The main difference between AR and VR, is that AR overlays something over reality while VR is an entirely digital environment.
MR is a combination of both AR and VR technology. It combines the digital overlay from AR with the Head Mounted Display (HMD) from VR. it is sometimes also referred to as AR 2.0.
One popular brand enabling MR is Hololens. Check out the video below to see it in action.
AR vs VR vs MR. Which is Better?
The suitability of AR, VR and MR depends on the use case of the user.
Currently, AR technology are more mainstream amongst the consumer market, as most technology is able to handle the bandwidth requirements of AR technology.
Due to the bandwidth requirements and cost of VR and MR technology, they are currently more commonly used for business and industrial use cases.
That said, it is expected that as technology improves, VR and MR would make their way into the consumer markets.
As immersive tech is an emerging technology, there are limited specialist and experts in the field, often making it difficult for businesses to properly incorporate immersive tech solutions. Companies such as Hiverlab specialises in immersive tech and helping businesses deploy immersive technology solutions for their business use case.
Experts in general thinks that the immersive tech market has great growth potential.
According to Modor Intelligence, the VR industry is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 48.7% from 2020 – 2025.
The AR market isn’t far behind. The market is forecasted to grow at an CAGR of 48.6% from 2019 – 2026 by Fortune Business Insights.