So we’ve been experimenting with extended reality (XR) technology for disaster management and media planning for roughly a year now. We’ve been discussing use cases, building mock-ups, and creating prototype applications. A key question we’ve been coming back to again and again is this one:
Which kind of XR should we use for which scenario?
While there is no ultimate answer (yet), the following table already provides a lot of guidance – and might be useful for other projects as well (which is why we’re sharing it):
|Augmented Reality (AR)
|What does it do?
|Adds (layers of) information on top of the real world.
|Does everything that AR does.
Allows for (more or less elaborate) interaction with objects anchored in the real world.
|Replaces the real world with (a more or less elaborate) virtual one.
|Lightweight and relatively easy to create.
Can almost always be used in the field.
Already available to a large number of users.
|Allows for a gradual shift from AR to VR.
Can theoretically be used in the field (at some point).
Arguably the most versatile and sustainable XR technology.
|Enables full immersion and zero distraction.
Sophisticated simulations can create a great level of detail and authenticity while keeping users safe from real-world harm.
|Limited extra information.
|Calls for a lot of computing power.
Devices are still very expensive.
|Use is limited to a control room / office environment
|AR-ready smartphone or tablet
|MR headset (e.g. Microsoft Hololens)
|VR headset (e.g. Meta Quest, HTC Vive)
A key insight distilled from the that table would be:
AR is great for quick wins and simple, no-frills solutions. VR will probably always be great for training and planning from the sidelines. And MR is the future of situation awareness, even though the tech still seems a bit pricey and clunky at present.
Photo by James Yarema