Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality: The Ultimate Guide

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Do you sometimes find that you use augmented reality and virtual reality interchangeably? If you do, you are not alone; it is a common confusion for many people. The fact is, they do share some similarities. But, they also have significant differences in how they work. 

Our article will explore augmented reality versus virtual reality. We will share with you salient points you need to know about the two. You can also check out this link for more insights on AR and VR

Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR); Key Differences 

  1. Real vs. Virtual world

The most significant difference between AR and VR is what they do to the physical world. Virtual reality replaces the world as you know it with a simulated one. You achieve complete immersion by shutting out the physical world. 

Now here is where the magic will start to happen. Once you put on your gear, you feel like your body has gone into another world. You can also move about and interact with the different elements. 

Imagine exploring the Amazon forest or swimming with the sharks. And you can do all these right in the comfort of your living room.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, superimposes virtual elements into the real world. You still get to experience the physical world as you know it. However, the computer-generated digital elements enhance how you perceive the world.

The one thing both VR and AR achieve is the ability to alter our perception of the physical world. One does this by transporting yourself to another place altogether. The other, in this case, AR, only enhances your physical surroundings.

  1. Applications

AR applications work well for situations where you still want a connection to the real world. Such include remote collaboration, on-the-job training, remote help, and even computer tasks. 

Experienced workers can capture their knowledge digitally through narration or tutorials. The management can then use such resources to train new employees. 

You may have had the opportunity to use the Pokemon Go AR app. It allows for exploration and interaction with the virtual world using digital elements. The app has grown quite popular and has seen over one billion people download it.

Virtual reality works best for situations where you need total immersion assimilation. Take the case of training orthopedic surgeons, doctors, or nurses. It provides a tool for first-hand training with the virtual world as a platform. 

Companies like IKEA are also using virtual reality for marketing. They have an app that allows you to design your room using their furniture. VR applications are also common in the video, automobile, and gaming industries. 

VR is also making inroads in the education sector. Dinosaurs no longer need to be fantastical creatures. Students can interact and learn more about them with VR. 

  1. Device Considerations
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To experience the immersive world of virtual reality, you need a wide range of devices. Such include handsets, goggles, and hand controllers. When it comes to the headset, you have options. Some connect to the computer, while others are standalone.

Some headsets will allow you to mount a smartphone instead of connecting to a computer. Popular brands include Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and Google cardboard.

The device considerations make VR a bit more expensive to install. That is why small businesses may not be able to put in place such technologies in their businesses.

Augmented reality is not so demanding when it comes to the type of devices you need. All it requires is a smartphone, the right app, and a camera. 

If you prefer, you can use AR headsets. It allows you to view the digital content on a screen right in front of your eyes. An excellent example of such a headset is the Google Glass.

  1. Differences in How They Work

Augmented reality uses real-time tracking, computer vision, and mapping. All the data goes through the camera before delivering the digital elements to the user.

Virtual reality, on the other hand, depends on vision simulation. You need to have a screen in front of your eyes to block out the physical world. Positioning, movement, and eye adjustment all contribute to the whole experience.

Take the example of head tracking. When you move your head, you can explore the virtual world like you would in the physical one. You can also combine the different senses. Such are touch and hearing to enhance the experience further.

  1. The Merger between AR and VR

Developers have managed to breach the gap between AR and VR. A combination of the two results in what the industry players call mixed reality (MR). It takes the best features of the two to merge physical and digital reality. You get an exciting interplay of the real world and computer-generated elements.

To experience mixed reality, you will meet a headset, much like you would with VR. It allows you to interact with 3D elements without transposing you to another world. One of the best examples of MR is the Microsoft HoloLens.

Let’s put mixed reality into context. A surgeon can use digitally created models to simulate different procedures in real-time. Recipients can then use the information to perform actual surgeries. Only this time they will be doing it on living patients. A surgeon in India could lead a team in the US without needing to travel the distance.

Final Thoughts 

VR, AR, and MR can only get better with the rapid technological developments taking place. VR adoption may be at a lower rate than AR. The reason may be due to the higher cost of associated equipment.

Yet, industry players have massive opportunities to make such technologies more accessible. The benefits to essential industries like healthcare and education are immense. Companies can also use such technologies for marketing purposes.

It helps improve customer experience. Audiences can interact with products without needing to visit physical stores. It is now possible to view and test drive vehicles without sitting in an actual car and taking it to the road. 

It will be interesting to see what is in store with regards to Innovations in the future.