Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality: A Comparative Guide

The importance of two technologies, virtual reality and augmented reality, are promising to be on the rise as technology becomes more and more integrated into people’s lives.

Indeed, the opportunities for VR as well as AR include and are not limited to changing the overall view on the future of gaming, entertainment, communication, education, and even healthcare.

To put the question in a better perspective, let me ask; what then is the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality? As the following guide will explain, there are several key differences between the two.

What is Virtual Reality?

This technique totally engages users in a realistic, artificial environment created by the power of computers.

Modern devices such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR offer stereoscopic 3D visualization of the environment, which reacts in some way to the user’s presence and actions and makes the user feel like he/she has been transported to a different place.

Through headphones and motion capture, VR makes it possible for users to basically walk around in a computer generated environment. This aspect makes virtual reality different from gaming and video by engaging users to a certain level.

The immersive technologies as VR do not only allow the users to ride virtual roller coasters but even offer the chance to study the topographical mapping of Mars.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality superimposes computer generated images and artifacts onto the camera feed obtained from real life. Also, while VR isolates you from your environment, AR expands your sensory experience of the physical world.

Despite the fact that AR wearables such as Microsoft HoloLens or Meta augmented reality glasses, the image displayed in front of the wearer is overlaid on the real-world environment through transparent displays.

Some of the notable examples of augmented reality based applications include, games such as Pokemon Go! also utilize augmented reality to depict fictional characters inside real life environments such that they can appear right in front of you.

Augmented reality is an experience that overlays data and sometimes visuals on what is currently in front of the user in a friendly and engaging manner.

Key Differences

Virtual Environment (VR) versus Augmented Reality (AR)

This is where the main difference between virtual reality and augmented reality can be pinpointed: the environment where the user is placed.

Virtual reality is a simulated environment where everything around you is fake but you can have an experience of that environment.

Augmented reality adds other features and information on top of the objects and surroundings within a person’s real environment, making them even more engaging.

VR takes you to a different place and time, while AR places virtual objects into your physical setting.

Isolated vs Socially Integrated

Virtual Reality headsets are built to cover a person’s field of vision to provide an individual, captivating experience of navigating through the virtual environments.

Some AR applications are meant to be used on portable or even wearable technology, as they are intended to be used in real life environments, when people are navigating physical spaces and engaging with other people.

AR adds digital augmentations into the workflow of the group and collaborative spaces for the connected experience. As a result, while VR is a rather isolative experience in general, AR can be instrumental in social inclusion.

Fictional vs Informational

VR entertainment builds imaginary environments from gaming platforms, animation and more.

AR is frequently informative augmentations closer to the documented world – think of the navigation directions floating over real streets, the restaurant reviews over physical shops, and virtual products navigating through the living room.

However, fictional effects are not to be entirely ruled out on AR as they can be used for fun purposes. However, VR is based on fiction while AR is based on actual data from the world that we live in.

Developing Technology

Future possibilities of the two technologies in virtual and augmented reality are very large as these continue to integrate into more applications.

Although the VR still requires specific hardware to be implemented in the present time, the AR is free with the help of smartphones.

We have not even seen the full potential of these reality-altering technologies yet as we continue to find ways how they can be used in gaming, in telling stories, in communication, in travel, and even in other aspects of our lives.

It is extremely important to consider this as it makes it possible for so many opportunities to take place.

Conclusion

Virtual and augmented reality will both have great impacts on the future of visual perception and info visualization, interaction with the immediate physical space, communications, and media and entertainment consumption.

But each achieves these breakthroughs in near opposite manners – eradicating the physical world versus augmenting it with the digital.

When these technologies are being developed, understanding that there are some fundamental differences assists in setting the correct expectations of how these technologies are going to change our lives in the future.

The advancements in technology mean that the world is more virtually and virtually augmented than ever before.

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