The terms “augmented reality” and “virtual reality” are frequently used interchangeably. VR headsets like the Oculus Quest and the Valve Index, as well as AR apps and games like Pokemon Go, remain popular. They sound similar, and as the technologies advance, they blend slightly. But they’re two very different concepts, with distinct characteristics that set one apart from the other.
Difference Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality:
What Exactly Is Virtual Reality?
VR headsets completely take over your vision, creating the illusion that you are somewhere else. When worn, the HTC Vive Cosmos, PlayStation VR, Oculus Quest, Valve Index, and other headsets are opaque, blocking out your surroundings. You might think you’re blindfolded if you put them on while they’re turned off.
When you turn on the headsets, the LCD or OLED panels inside are refracted by the lenses, filling your field of vision with whatever is displayed. It could be a game, a 360-degree video, or simply the virtual space between the platforms’ interfaces. Visually, you are transported to wherever the headset desires—the outside world is replaced with a virtual one. Six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) motion tracking is used in tethered VR headsets such as the Index and PS VR, as well as standalone VR headsets such as the Quest 2. External sensors or cameras (for the Index and PS VR) or outward-facing cameras (for the Quest) provide this technology.
2). This means that the headsets detect not only the direction you’re facing but also any movement you make in those directions. With this and 6DOF motion controllers, you can move around in a virtual space with virtual hands. This space is typically only a few square meters across, but it is far more immersive than simply standing still and looking in various directions. The disadvantage is that you must be cautious not to trip over any cables connecting the headset to your computer or game system.
Virtual reality supersedes your surroundings in both games and apps, transporting you to different locations. It makes no difference where you are physical. In games, you may find yourself in the cockpit of a starfighter. You can virtually tour distant locations as if you were there using apps. In VR, there are numerous possibilities, all of which involve replacing everything around you with something else.
What Is Augmented Reality?
Unlike virtual reality, which replaces your vision, augmented reality augments it. AR devices, such as the Microsoft HoloLens and other enterprise-level “smart glasses,” are transparent, allowing you to see everything in front of you as if you were wearing a pair of poor-quality sunglasses.
The technology is intended to allow for free movement while projecting images over whatever you are looking at. The concept is extended to smartphones through AR apps and games like Pokemon Go, which use your phone’s camera to track your surroundings and overlay additional information on top of it, on the screen.
AR displays can range from as simple as a data overlay showing the time to as complex as holograms floating in the middle of a room. Pokemon Go superimposes a Pokemon on top of whatever the camera is looking at. Meanwhile, the HoloLens and other smart glasses allow you to virtualize floating app windows and 3D decorations around you.
When compared to virtual reality, this technology has a significant disadvantage: visual immersion. While VR completely covers and replaces your field of vision, AR apps only appear on your smartphone or tablet screen, and the HoloLens can only project images in front of your eyes in a limited area. When a hologram disappears once it moves out of a rectangle in the middle of your vision, or when you must stare at a small screen while pretending that the object on that screen is in front of you, it’s not very immersive.
The possibilities for augmented reality are nearly limitless. For years, phone-based augmented reality software has recognized surroundings and provided additional information about what it sees, such as live translation of text or pop-up reviews of restaurants as you look at them. Dedicated AR headsets, such as the HoloLens, can go even further, allowing you to virtually place various apps as floating windows around you. They essentially provide you with a modular, multi-monitor computing setup.
Currently, AR is only widely available on smartphones and lacks the vision-augmenting capabilities of enterprise-level AR displays. This means that until a consumer AR headset is released, AR will remain very limited.
What Is the Difference Between AR and VR?
Despite their similar designs, virtual reality and augmented reality accomplish two very different things in two very different ways. VR replaces reality by transporting you to another world. AR augments reality by superimposing data on top of what you’re already seeing. They are both powerful technologies that have yet to make an impression on consumers but show a lot of promise. They have the potential to completely transform how we use computers in the future, but whether one or both will succeed is currently unknown.
Augmented reality and virtual reality are two types of reality technologies that either augment or replace a real-world environment with a simulated one.
Augmented reality (AR): enhances your surroundings by adding digital elements to a live view, often using a smartphone’s camera.
Virtual reality (VR): is a completely immersive experience that simulates a real-life environment.
While both virtual reality and augmented reality are intended to provide users with a simulated environment, each concept is distinct and involves different use cases. Aside from entertainment scenarios, businesses are increasingly utilizing augmented reality due to its ability to generate informational overlays that add useful, real-world scenarios.