The definition of virtual and augmented realities depends on whom you ask but in our studio, we define these different flavors of media in these ways.
At Healium, we see the vast potential for using immersive technologies to better your mental health and mental fitness by reducing stress and anxiety. We leverage the immersive powers of virtual and augmented reality to help elicit positive changes in the physical world.
Immersive technology continues to evolve, and as companies like the newly rebranded Meta delve further into these spaces, it’s becoming increasingly important to educate yourself on the nuances of this new frontier. Even when it comes to the basic differences between AR vs. VR.
Virtual reality or VR in its simplest form is an environment that surrounds you and blocks out your view of the real world. In our shop, VR can mean a 360 degree computer generated environment like what’s built inside Unity or Unreal Engine, or a 360 video.
Explore examples of some of Healium’s VR experiences in 2D format.
Without a VR headset, you can see what these experiences look like on your screen, but when you put on a VR headset, you experience complete immersion with the content; meaning you see it all around you no matter how you shift your gaze.
Augmented reality or AR, on the other hand, is a 3D asset that’s superimposed over the real world. Your real world view is “augmented” by a different reality.
One common example of augmented reality are camera filters used on Instagram or Snapchat. You can see your face in real-time, but the filter is augmenting your view of yourself–whether that’s with a cat filter or a subtle makeup look.
AR can be consumed just on your phone or tablet or with a headset AR display. AR can also be called immersive media but it’s around you instead of surrounding you.
Here’s an example of AR, which you can try for yourself with our augmented reality meditation app found on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Notice how you still see the real world living room.
VR and AR headsets come in different flavors.
The most popular VR headsets are the Meta Quest 2, HTC Vive and Vive Flow, and Pico (now Bytedance). For the most part, these headsets are standalone devices meaning you don’t need a PC or laptop to use them. The headsets come in 3 DOF (degrees of freedom) or 6 DOF meaning how far you can walk around the room. 3 DOF headsets enable primarily seated experiences so if walking around the room in VR is important to you, be sure to use a “room scale” enabled VR headset.
AR doesn’t require a headset (for now) and can be consumed on your phone or tablet. Popular AR headsets include the Microsoft Hololens, and Nreal glasses which tethers to an Android phone. Apple is rumored to be making an AR or VR headset.
XR in our shop refers to an umbrella term called “extended realities” which just means the entire spectrum from VR to mobile AR and AR head mounted displays.
People routinely debate which is better…AR or VR? For digiceuticals to move forward, we need both.
While VR is more immersive and memorable, AR is more portable. Both types of “immersive media” are superior to audio or 2D media as it relates to shifting brain patterns. Ultimately, the brain believes what it sees.
Just ask the Healium user who reported one of his arms felt wet after gliding up the side of a waterfall in a VR headset.
Sarah Hill is the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically-powered VR/AR immersive media channel controlled by the user's brainwaves and heart rate via consumer wearables.