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Mixed reality, from A to V

Filipa Cruz

Hello, my fellow Mixed Reality (MR) enthusiasts!

Every two weeks you shall hear the tale of an MR intern at Whitesmith in the form of commenting interesting articles, showing awesome demos, and even a little tutorial here and there.

For those who are just beginning to navigate this wondrous realm, I'll be sharing with you what I've been learning in the fields of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

I'd advise you to read the whole thing before diving into the links, or you'll feel a bit lost and maybe not understand where things come from.

Virtual Reality (VR) is, as the name itself indicates, an experience characterized by the fact that its user will be the subject in a scenario which is 100% virtually created.
In other words, VR is a computer generated environment which allows its user to experience a different reality.
You might even say they go through an experience of "near-reality" where one or more of their senses are stimulated in order to deceive our body and make the scene that much more immersive (or believable).

Augmented Reality (AR), on the other hand, takes advantage of an already very interesting and realistic medium (our actual reality) and tries to elevate common objects and experiences.
This is achieved by using an augmented reality browser or a headset (like in VR) where a specific object or marker will reproduce an image, vídeo, animation, etc.

Understanding where we stand

Before diving into the deep sea of MR coding, I'd like to show you a few links I found very interesting and enlightening about the state of the art of this medium.
Even though this is quite the long read, I think it sums up rather well what most people think about the future of MR: Everything we know about the future of virtual reality.

If you're feeling a wee bit lost with all these foreign terms, I'd advise you to bookmark this link.
It explains to you some of the basic concepts pretty well: Virtual Reality Glossary.

This cute infographic shows very briefly what the main differences are between AR and VR: How VR, AR, and MR might Stack Up.

Which in combination with this post, gives you the full scope: Differences between Augmented and Virtual Reality.

For all the designers (and design enthusiasts), the following links explain how to deal with UX in VR and why you should learn it:

While creating an MR experience, you'll have to use film-making principles.
You have to begin with thinking of the story you want to create and how: Storyboarding in VR.

With that in mind, this next link approaches how in VR we should also consider how the user will interact with the experience.
It also says that sometimes you need to restrict the FOV (field of vision) in order to make the user feel like a detective in the scene.

The conclusion is that, even though the user realizes he's in a virtual world, there are other ways to make him engage and like the experience other than just the graphics' quality: The Storyteller's guide to VR.

Show and Tell

Below I'll show you some of the most interesting applications of VR and AR I've found.

The TV show Archer, launched an AR App to celebrate its 8th season, a very bold and unusual move, giving the user the possibility of playing Private eye in order to solve mysteries that could land them awesome prizes.

Google created a new and refreshing way to make shopping much easier. With Tango, you'll never get lost in a shop again!

Tutorial Time

Here are some of the first tutorials and libraries I looked into.
Don't be scared, I know it's a pretty big deal exploring this sort of uncharted territory, but for now, why don't you look at the demos and try to understand the ones that catch your eye?
In the next few blog posts, I'll try to do a tutorial of my own, showing all the steps to get a simple AR application.

If you wish to start with VR, here is a website with simple and interesting daily projects for a period of 30 days.
It's a good way to start, not only because practice makes perfect, but also because if you create the habit of playing with VR for a bit every day, in a few months you'll be one of the few continuously exploring the medium: 30 days in VR.

If on the other hand, AR is more your thing, I'd advise you to play with this library. It mixes AR with Javascript and has some pretty interesting demos.
Why WebAR you might ask? Well, in my opinion, it'll be the fastest growing medium for AR for a lot of people are able to access websites quite easily and don't need to buy expensive hardware or software to experience it: JSARuco.

Well, I hope I didn't bore you to death!
Would you like for me to comment on something you saw or answer some of your questions?
Have you created something? Then tell us about it! Go ahead and tweet your thoughts and requests!


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Filipa Cruz
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