What exactly is Augmented Reality?

May 27, 2022

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts heralding visual graphics (like the one in the image above), as incredible examples of Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality —one expert went so far as to describe it as Virtual Reality. So, what is happening here? Why are we suddenly describing broadcast TV infographics in this way? I agree that this work is amazing, and I really like this technique of the graphics bursting out of the 2D panels that used to host the information being discussed.

But, this is something the studios have been doing for years; in fact, all big network television studios are green-screen facilities nowadays, with most of the news desk being virtual. The Weather report is arguably the first example of Mixed Reality if we use this nomenclature.

I see this as a worrying trend that can only undermine the true power of AR technology, which has nothing to do with the content, but is all about the context by which we consume it. This is through the lens of the viewers reality, whether it be through their device camera, eyewear or headset.

I know some will argue that the context of these broadcast graphics is a version of reality that is being augmented (the host, the camera, studio etc), but I don’t think we should be including this sideways view in our categorisation.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Let’s open the debate up. What exactly is Augmented, Mixed, Virtual Reality?

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