ETIP #285

What’s the difference between AR, MR and Spatial Computing? Here’s why you should care.

What’s the difference between AR, MR and Spatial Computing? Here’s why you should care.

The barriers to entry for augmented reality and mixed reality are lower than they’ve ever been. To avoid getting scooped by your competitors, now’s the time to take these technologies seriously and start investigating how you can incorporate them into your content and marketing approach.

Let’s use a food metaphor. Everyone loves a good food metaphor.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a digital layer that augments reality by laying on top of it. Think of it like the icing on top of a cake. The icing augments the cake by being on top of it. AR apps for your iPhone or iPad are good illustrations of this. Check out this delicious one called ARport that we produced recently.

Mixed Reality (MR) is digital material that can be mixed in and interact with physical objects in reality. Think of MR as icing in a multi-layer cake. You can find delicious icing surprises throughout the cake. And those icing layers stay stationary within the cake. They “know” that they’re sandwiched between layers of cake and that they should remain flat and in place. If a baker puts two layers of icing within the cake and walks away, those layers of icing remain there even if the baker walks away. MR is best embodied by the Microsoft Hololens, where digital objects can be placed within physical reality in a way that’s context aware. It can make a tiny dancer spin on top of a table because it understands that a table is a solid object.

Spatial Computing (SC) is digital material that can interact with and appear to modify physical reality in complex ways. Think of Spatial Computing (like what Magic Leap One offers) like you’re a baker whose cake picked up a slicing knife off the stainless steel prep table and is now battling its evil twin to the death.

With spatial computing, an immersive, character-driven experience is possible within your physical environment. The cakes understand that they are on a table top. They understand that they are made of sponge material and icing. They can interact with other digital objects as well as physical objects in a way that seems sensible and physical.

Enough about cake. What do I do with these realities?

AR is widely available through iOS and Android devices, so if you’re looking to put an enhanced experience in the hands of millions of people, then an augmented experience is a way to have your cake and eat it too. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)

Now, if you want to create a richer, more customized experience in an expo, trade show or event environment, now you’re able to take advantage of the more complex MR or spatial computing possibilities that require specialized hardware devices. Because of the hardware requirements, these realities aren’t as ubiquitous as AR. But they pack a big punch because they are novel. If you’re looking to make an impact and be remembered, MR and spatial computing are great options that deliver above and beyond VR or 360 video.

Get cooking

As we mentioned at the top of the article, the time is right to jump into AR, MR and SC before someone else in your market beats you to it. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our article on How to sell your first AR, VR or MR project to your boss and get promoted.