Wednesday is turning out to be a big day in the world of augmented and virtual reality.
First, Microsoft said it is bringing its augmented reality headset HoloLens to new markets worldwide.
Second, computer pioneer Nolan Bushnell—the brains behind Atari—is offering up some competition in Modal VR, the company behind a new virtual reality headset, which has debuted a self-contained hardware-software bundle designed to boost “enterprise adoption of virtual reality,” according to a company release. He co-founded the new company with Jason Crawford, who is chief executive officer.
Augmented reality blends elements of the physical world with other made-up or “virtual” objects or things. A helmeted repair technician looking at a real piece of equipment, for example, would see that machine, but also a visualization of how to fix it. On the gaming front, Pokemon Go is an example of augmented reality because the computer-generated cartoon images seemingly appear in real places on the player’s smartphone.
Virtual reality, on the other hand, creates a whole new world that users can view and interact with. In the business realm however, the terms augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are often used interchangeably.
Both AR and VR are seen as potentially huge markets for tech companies. Last week at Salesforce.com’s (CRM) Dreamforce event, for example, Schneider Electric demonstrated a pretend technician wearing a Daqri AR helmet “fixing” a malfunctioning electrical box.
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As for HoloLens, which Microsoft (MSFT) prefers to refer to a “self-contained holographic computer,” is now available for pre-order in Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Deliveries of the $3,000 device are scheduled to roll out in late November.
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Microsoft first offered HoloLens to software developers last March, later expanding availability to others in the U.S. and Canada via the Microsoft Store in August.