What is the Difference Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality?

virual reality vs augmented reality

When browsing the Internet nowadays, you’re immediately bombarded with thousands of technical words and jargon about the latest piece of hardware or the newest thing that will change the world, and it can be pretty difficult to actually find out what in the world is going on. We’re here to provide you with an easy and clear explanation of what augmented reality and virtual reality are and how they differ from each other. Trust me, it’s really not as hard to comprehend as it sounds.

Augmented Reality

We’ll start with augmented reality. This clever piece of technology basically creates a digital overlay that maps onto your real-world surroundings. For example, if you wanted to look at a 3-D model of a map, you could place it on your table in real life. This technology is very reminiscent of technology seen in films, such as “Minority Report” and “Iron Man,” where the characters use an interface that looks like glasses to view a screen that is displayed on real-world objects.

augmented reality

Augmented reality hasn’t really been implemented into society very readily, unlike virtual reality. The general consumer can’t pick up a pair of augmented reality goggles that truly work as well as in the movies because the technology is not ready to be dished out to the public. However, there are many augmented reality kits in the works right now. One such piece of technology is Microsoft’s HoloLens.

The HoloLens is a pair of glasses that the user wears and is then able to see “holograms” in the room around him or her. In Microsoft’s panel at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in 2015, it had a live demonstration of the HoloLens. In this demonstration, Microsoft showed a very interesting example of the HoloLens’ use. The user who wore the glasses was playing the game Minecraft. In front of the user was an empty table. Using the HoloLens, the entire Minecraft world was projected onto the table. Then, in real life, the user manipulated the whole world through the use of his hands. This then affected the game world in the display and affected the game world of the player who was in the world without the HoloLens on. This demonstration was very impressive and showed the real potential that augmented reality can have in the world of gaming.

Virtual Reality

Let’s move onto virtual reality. Rather than simply projecting an image onto a real-world surface, virtual reality creates a whole world around you. This is done via the use of a headset. The headset will display a 360-degree image that moves when your head does, simulating real-life movements in a realistic way.

virtual reality

Virtual reality has become a lot more commonplace in modern society over the past year as it has become much more readily available. Companies, such as HTC, Oculus, and Sony, have all produced virtual reality headsets for consumers at reasonable prices. Sony’s PlaystationVr works on a normal, affordable console. There are many examples of virtual reality working efficiently, and while there are too many to name, some standouts are the aforementioned HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and the PlaystationVr, which all showcase what virtual reality can do for the world of gaming. They create an incredibly immersive experience that is too unique to describe using words.

These headsets also offer an insight into what future virtual reality technology could offer in terms of the film/TV viewing experience. For example, one app for virtual reality allows films to be streamed into a virtual replica of a movie theater, providing the social experience of going to a movie theater but from the comfort of your own home. It is very easy to see how virtual reality can be used to create many immersive experiences, such as going to theme parks, safari parks or visiting different parts of the world that you would otherwise not be able to travel to.

Virtual reality can also have a very bright future in the casino and gambling market. The same social experience of going to a casino floor can be created in a virtual world within the comfort of your own living room. The possibilities for virtual reality’s use are practically endless.

The Differences

The core difference between augmented reality and virtual reality is that one displays an image onto real-world objects (augmented reality) while the other creates a virtual world inside of a headset screen (virtual reality). Besides this core difference, the technology works in a somewhat similar way, both aiming to provide a more immersive experience, especially in the world of gaming.

Perhaps one of the most important differences between the two technologies is their possible uses. Virtual reality is currently used only for gaming. And, while this market is extremely successful and has proven to be extremely worthwhile, the concept has not really pushed itself to its limit yet. Virtual reality remains the go-to option to experience a virtual world firsthand, but its real-life applications seem somewhat limited.

Despite some recent studies into how virtual reality can be used to treat patients with varying mental illnesses or social issues, the technology is yet to be applied to a real-life situation. On the other hand, augmented reality has numerous real-life applications in modern society. For example, several apps on your phone, such as Layar, allow you to view virtual objects in a real-life setting.

This can be very helpful when it comes to processes, such as buying furniture, because the product can be artificially re-created in augmented reality so you can see if the furniture fits into your house. Augmented reality can also be used to get a real-time look at your surroundings, acting like a map that requires no time to figure out because the icons are displayed above the buildings you are looking at in real-life.

Despite their differences, virtual and augmented reality remain the most talked about and highly anticipated pieces of technology because of the sheer amount of uses that each has. There is absolutely no doubt that both virtual and augmented reality have a long future ahead.

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