Reality Check: Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality

Andrii Ryzhenko

Published: 19 mar 2019

software development

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AR? Don’t you mean VR? Everything you should know about their differences and similarities

If you have never put on a headset and found yourself on another planet (Virtual Reality) or chased down a rare Pokémon with your smartphone in hands (Augmented Reality), you have probably heard about these technologies or seen them in movies.

Digitally rich experience is at the core of both technologies. With the help of AR, we can see digital elements integrated into the real world, whereas VR imitates the real world by adding virtual objects into a digitized simulation.

Augmented reality marketing option

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality is the real world supplemented with layers of computer-generated objects such as images, videos, and interactive data. Those who saw the Iron Man movie probably noticed the graphic visuals reflected on his helmet screen. This is basically how AR works – digital content is blended into its relevant place in a user's view, whether they look at it through glasses or a smartphone screen. As a user turns around, the elements move along and in some forms of AR one can interact with them.

Companies like Google, Microsoft, Sony spearhead the AR field, all of which have developed the eyewear products:

Virtual reality sample

Virtual Reality

Virtual means something not real. It’s a highly-detailed simulation of the real world that is completely isolated from a physical environment. VR is so exciting because it creates a strong feeling of a physical presence in the real-world or fictional scenes. It’s typically associated with gaming and entertainment.

VR surrounds users with 360 degree view and stimulates your vision, so your brain perceives everything you see as real. In the most advanced form of VR, you can step inside and move through places, reach out and manipulate things.

There is a wide variety of gear to immerse you inside virtual worlds, from high-end headsets to less powerful, tethered to your smartphone ones.

  • Oculus Rift & PlayStation VR: Two high-end VR headsets that require a powerful gaming PC and PS4, respectively. Both employ fixed displays and cannot be adapted to smartphones.
  • HTC Vive: HTC Vive comes in a package that entails a headset, communication module and controllers. It’s the only VR system that captures and reflects the users’ real-life motion in the VR environment.
  • Samsung Gear VR: One of the most popular, basic VR gears – a plastic box where you can place your smartphone. After putting it on, the wearers get immersed via an enlarged smartphone screen.

Similarities

Both AR and VR are here for creating virtual content. Defined as both useful and engaging, they are becoming extremely relevant in industries like entertainment, marketing, real estate, design and more. They come in handy in healthcare where nurses and doctors can rely on them for training and surgery assistance purposes.

Both technologies allow students to consume edifying content and study with more enthusiasm. Immersive experiences like VR make it possible to visit any place on Earth and beyond, as well as conduct lab experiments and perform technical tasks safely and without manuals at hand.

Differences

  • Purpose. AR technology mainly focuses on streamlining processes and everyday experiences. For example, your driving experience can be enhanced with different kinds of visuals. With the help of AR, your windshield can turn into a head-up display where you can see your location or current speed without looking away from the road. You can translate writings in other languages into your native one and get additional information, just by pointing your smartphone to the object.
  • Immersion level. In Virtual Reality, the users are completely isolated from the real world. VR is a detailed simulation that is not related to the real world. Augmented reality isn’t about isolation, it’s rather about enhancing the physical world.
  • Devices. Today, you can opt for various models of VR headsets and glasses in different price ranges. VR headsets and glasses vary in pricing – from a hand-assembled cardboard headset to high-end Oculus Rift. Augmented reality is available through glasses, smartphones and tablets.

Wrapping up

All in all, it’s preferred to experience technologies to embrace their essence. To that end, here are top AR and VR apps of 2018 for you to try out:

AR:

  • Sketchar
  • Mondly
  • WallaMe
  • Google Translate

VR:

  • Allumette
  • Colosse
  • Google Earth
  • Littlstar
  • Ocean Rift

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