Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality

New technologies are literally changing our views of the world. With a little help from augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices, we can now see, play and learn in new and exciting ways. Eroe Consulting delves into these new technologies and examines how they are affecting our everyday world.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is defined by Wikipedia as “a computer technology that uses virtual reality headsets or multi-projected environments, sometimes in combination with physical environments or props, to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment.”

In laymen’s terms, virtual reality uses technology to create an artificial, simulated environment different to the one right in front of you – it is designed to take you out of your natural environment. VR can be composed of artificial scenes that are animated or created through computer graphics. It can also consist of images or videos of a real place that have been inserted in a VR app or game.

You view virtual reality by donning special VR viewers or headsets like the Oculus Rift. Some viewers use smartphones and VR apps, like Daydream View or Google Cardboard. Virtual reality viewers allow you to move around, look up, down, left, right, and even behind you. There are many VR apps on the market these days, and they allow you to do everything from explore the solar system or dive to deep depths under the ocean. With VR, users are immersed in a simulated reality where they can experience things that are not in the real world directly around them.

Virtual reality is often used in video/computer games and 3D movies. It is also used for training purposes, such as flight simulators, where users can practice with the VR-created artificial environments.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality, on the other hand, is defined by Wikipedia as “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, haptics or GPS data.”

Simply put, augmented reality is an enhanced version of reality made by layering digital information on a real image. This allows real-time interactions with the real world around you. Augmented reality is primarily used in smartphones and tablets by using the device’s camera to view the real world in front of you. The apps then put a layer of information, text or images, on top of that view, giving you an enhanced reality.

Augmented reality is a blending of digital information into the real world to enhance the user’s view by providing meaningful information. The technology has been recently popularised with the launch of Microsoft’s Hololens AR device, the Pokeman GO game, and Snapchat filters.

Similarities and Differences

VR and AR are opposite sides of the same coin – virtual reality gives a digital re-creation of a real life setting, while augmented reality offers virtual overlays to the real world.

VR and AR are similar as they both use some of the same types of technology and they both give users an enhanced viewing experience. They are both often used for entertainment purposes and also commonly used in science and medicine.

The two technologies differ as augmented reality enhances real world experiences with digital components. Virtual reality, on the other hand, creates a totally new reality that is computer generated.

Virtual Reality can be viewed with a head-mounted or hand-held controller. This allows users to navigate their own way through the simulated environment. Augmented reality is most often being used in smartphones, tablets and laptops via their installed cameras, enabling users to view the actual world around them, but also see the AR elements added by the apps and programs.

Which one will succeed?

Until recently, virtual reality devices and programs were more common than augmented reality. Eroe believes that both VR and AR technologies will continue to advance and that we will find numerous more ways to use the tech to our benefit. Having said that, we predict that augmented reality will surpass virtual reality in its mainstream usage and commercial success as it deals with real world environments. Augmented reality will slowly, but surely, become more and more a part of our everyday lives.