You’ve probably heard of virtual reality, perhaps even augmented reality. But what is diminished reality? Diminished reality is probably one of the most unfamiliar forms of computer-aided reality even though it’s applications can be found all around you.

Read on to discover all about it.

What Is Diminished Reality?

To diminish means to reduce or become less.

Diminished Reality (DR) is a type of computer-aided reality that allows you through technology, to remove, conceal, or eliminate real-life objects from your environment. Information from your environment is removed or made visually invisible to your vision and replaced with seemingly believable backgrounds or other digital 3D objects.

This is achieved through a combination of software programs and hardware devices, most of which are handheld.

How Does Diminished Reality Work?

When referring to Diminished Reality, four important terms come into play. They are:

  1. Diminish
  2. See-through
  3. Replace
  4. Inpaint


Visual elements are reduced/lessened for a specific purpose. For example, diminished reality can be used to help visually impaired people. A certain color in an image can be modified by editing the light rays that enter the head-mounted display (HMD) and a computer.


Diminished reality can be used to see through objects. The light rays from the objects in question are replaced with previously captured images of the obstructed background, making the objects invisible to your view.

And just like in augmented reality, the background image taken before the object obstructed it, is overlaid onto the image you want to make invisible. This is used by Google Street View pictures to remove people from the pictures to protect their privacy.


Images of objects are removed and replaced by already prepared images of the same size. This technique is very similar to the augmented reality technology.


This concept is very similar to the see-through concept. In the latter, there are already prepared images of the background environment without obstructions which are used to replace the image we want to remove.

But with inpaint, the image of the background is generated in real-time. Possible images of the backgrounds are created using a combination of pixels and part images of the surrounding environment. This works well for situations where there is no previously captured image of the background.

The only downside of the inpaint methods is that there is no assurance that the generated background will be the same as the real one, so it is not as accurate.

Applications of Diminished Reality (DR)

Although diminished reality is a fairly new and unknown concept, it has many already existing applications in many fields around the world, some of which we use every day. Diminished reality is applied in photography, cinematography (film production), urban design, and businesses/commerce.

Photography and Videography

Photoshop Logo

Do you ever wonder how photographers and videographers manage to take out all the unwanted images from the pictures or videos they take? Yes, photo-editing and video-editing is an application of diminished reality.

The concept of inpainting is used for editing images and videos. Editors use the diminishing reality software to remove specific objects from an image or video. There are many editing apps and programs. Adobe Photoshop is one of the widely used and popular editing software.

Film Production

In many films, props and equipment are used for the production of the movies and stunts behind the scenes. These props are not to be seen in the actual movie and are removed from the scene through diminished reality (DR).

Urban Design and Planning

Urban Design is a vital part of national development. It is the design of buildings, streets, cities, and infrastructure in general. Urban design is a multidisciplinary field made up of architects, city planners, interior decorators, and landscapers amongst others.

Nowadays, with the aid of technology, architects and city planners have been able to superimpose computer-generated 3D images onto open fields or spaces to see how what they are building would look like before starting the actual work.

But over time, a problem arose. The place where the new building is to be built might not always be an open space, and the computer-generated render might not be large enough to cover the building or occupied space there.

Diminished reality enables the architect and the student planner to remove the obstructing environment or object. When this is done, then they can conveniently apply their images to the open space for preview.

Interior and exterior decorators also use this technology to remove old and faulty décor or unwanted shrubbery from the scene.


Woman trying out sofa with computer-aided reality.

Many businesses allow users to see how the products would be in their homes before purchase. Suppose you want to try out some new furniture in your home, and your room is cluttered with old furniture, clearing and moving around furniture to make space for a 3d image would be tedious.

Diminished reality makes it easier by removing the pieces of furniture we don’t want from our view. This helps businesses a lot.

How Is Diminished Reality Different From Other Computer-aided Realities?

Although Diminished reality is one of the types of computer-aided reality, virtual reality, and augmented reality being the most popular, it is considerably different from the rest. Extended reality is another term which encompasses virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality only.

Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of 3D images or digital information. It takes over your senses ( touch, hearing, vision) and immerses you into a seemingly real environment.

Augmented reality is a phenomenon where the real world is enhanced by computer-generated information. Augmented reality uses technology to superimpose 3D digital information onto real-life objects or your physical environment.

Diminished reality is very different from these. popularly referred to as the opposite of augmented reality, diminished reality takes from the world instead of adding to it. Physical content from the real-world environment can easily be removed from view through diminished reality.

The Relationship Between Diminished Reality and Augmented Reality

Although diminished reality and augmented reality are considered opposites, they complement each other. From the applications of diminished reality, we can infer that DR and AR go hand in hand. Diminished reality opens up a lot of opportunities for Augmented Reality, especially in businesses.

Understanding Diminished Reality

Hopefully,  this article has answered all your questions about diminished reality. Diminished reality is the process of removing real life objects from your vision of the environment. Using select programs and devices, diminished reality can be used in business, design, and even film production.

Diminished reality, although unfamiliar, contains a lot of potential and is bound to become more familiar as more research is made on it.

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