Difference Between AR and VR + Uses & Benefits of Both

Difference Between AR and VR + Uses & Benefits of Both
Article by Sumana Ganguly
Last Updated: December 08, 2022

Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR): Two of the most talked about and popular forms of technology used in entertainment, education, and business today.

Both technologies offer a unique experience by creating a digital environment for users to explore. However, there are distinct differences between them that can make or break the success of an application.  

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Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality  

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are two related but distinct technologies used to enhance the user's perception of the environment around them.  

Augmented Reality (AR) technology superimposes digital information, such as graphics, audio, and other sensory enhancements, onto the real-world environment.

AR devices, such as smartphones and smart glasses, use cameras and sensors to detect the user's surroundings and then overlay relevant digital information onto the user's view of the world.

The goal of AR technology is to enhance the user's experience of the real world by providing additional information, such as directions, product information, or educational content.  

Virtual Reality (VR) technology, on the other hand, creates a completely artificial environment. VR devices, such as head-mounted displays, create a completely immersive experience for the user, blocking out the real world and replacing it with a digital simulation.

The goal of VR, or a virtual world, is to provide an immersive experience that feels like a real-world experience, such as exploring a virtual world, playing a video game, or undergoing training simulations.  

In summary, Augmented Reality enhances the real world with digital information, while Virtual Reality creates an entirely new digital, virtual world for the user to explore.  

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?  

Augmented Reality (AR) is defined as a technology that enhances one's perception of the physical world by overlaying digital information onto the real-world environment.  

It is based on tracking motion and location data to acquire a 3D view of a person’s surroundings. By utilizing various sensors, cameras, and other technologies, AR technology can render realistic 3D objects in the user’s field of vision.

Some common applications of AR include virtual try-on for makeup or glasses, as well as gaming experiences such as Pokémon Go.  

How does Augmented Reality Work?  

AR technology builds on the physical world by incorporating virtual elements into it. It is seen as a way to create more immersive experiences and enable users to interact with digital objects in the real world.

By overlaying virtual elements onto the physical environment, it allows us to interact with digital content in a more meaningful way than ever before. As a result, augmented reality technology solution companies are becoming critical players in scaling and fine-tuning these immersive experiences across sectors.

AR technology has become increasingly popular in recent years (with Statista forecasting a global, $209 billion market size growth in 2022 alone), thanks in part to its steadily advancing technology, availability of devices and software, and growing demand from businesses, consumers, and industries looking for ways to bridge the gap between digital content and real life.  

A wide variety of applications have emerged since AR's popularity began to rise; educational programs are using it to teach complex concepts engagingly, businesses are utilizing it for marketing campaigns and customer service support, and gamers are enjoying entirely new ways of playing games. 

What is Augmented Reality Used for?  

One of AR’s most popular uses is in the gaming industry. AR-powered video games offer players entirely new ways of experiencing their favorite titles.

Players can immerse themselves in lifelike environments or take part in augmented reality sports events without having to leave home.  

For example, Pokémon GO was an incredibly successful augmented reality game that capitalized on this concept and allowed millions of people around the world to explore their neighborhoods while simultaneously interacting with Pokémon characters within their environment.

This type of gaming experience has opened up an entirely new form of entertainment for gamers all over the globe.  

Completely virtual AR users refer to individuals who experience augmented reality (AR) content solely through virtual environments or digital platforms, without the use of physical devices such as AR glasses or headsets.  

These users typically engage with AR content through a variety of digital devices, including smartphones, tablets, computers, and gaming consoles, which are equipped with AR-enabled software or applications.

Through these platforms, users can experience AR content that is seamlessly integrated into their digital environments, allowing them to interact with virtual objects, settings, and characters.  

The rise of completely virtual AR users has been fueled by advancements in AR technology and the increasing availability of AR-enabled applications and platforms.

As a result, virtual AR experiences have become more immersive, accessible, and engaging, creating new opportunities for entertainment, education, and communication (more on that later).  

Additionally, there are several other applications where augmented reality may be beneficial such as:  

  • Remote assistance services: For instance, allowing technicians at headquarters to provide remote guidance,  
  • Interactive museums: With 3D art pieces that come alive when viewed through a tablet screen,  
  • Navigation services: Providing directions within large public spaces like airports which feature interactive displays showing nearby points of interest throughout their premises etc.  

Tools Needed to Use Augmented Reality  

There are several tools that people need to use augmented reality (AR), depending on the specific AR experience they want to have. Here are some of the main tools that people typically use for AR:  

1. AR-enabled device

An AR-enabled device such as a smartphone, tablet, or smart glasses is necessary to display the augmented reality content. The device must have a camera and sensors to detect the user's surroundings and track the movement of the device.  

2. AR app or browser

An AR app or browser is needed to create and display the augmented reality content on the AR-enabled device. Some popular AR apps include Pokemon Go, Snapchat, and IKEA Place.  

3. Internet connection

Depending on the type of AR experience, an internet connection may be necessary to download and display the AR content.  

4. AR development tools

For developers creating their own AR experiences, specialized AR development tools such as ARKit (for iOS) and ARCore (for Android) are necessary to create the AR content and integrate it into an app or browser.  

5. AR accessories

Some AR experiences may require additional accessories, such as a controller or headset, to interact with the AR content more effectively.  

Overall, the specific tools needed for AR can vary widely depending on the specific use case and the level of development required.  

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What is Virtual Reality (VR)  

Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation that allows users to interact with lifelike simulations without leaving their homes.  

VR technology uses computer-generated simulations to create immersive and interactive 3D environments. It has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its ability to create convincing, realistic experiences.

VR can be used for entertainment, education, recreation, healthcare, research, and more.  

Unlike augmented reality, which relies on existing physical environments for its input data, VR requires more intensive computing power to generate 3D images from scratch.

It also requires specialized hardware such as VR headsets and controllers for immersion into the artificial environment.  

How does Virtual Reality Work?  

As mentioned briefly, virtual reality is a technology that uses computers to create simulated, three-dimensional environments that VR users can interact with.

These virtual environments can be made to look like almost anything, and once the users have put on a virtual reality headset, they will be able to see it as if they were there.

They can then move around in it, interact with objects and people, and even walk around in it. VR is often used for gaming, but it can also be used for training, education, and other purposes.  

What is Virtual Reality Used for?  

Examples of how virtual environments can be utilized include immersive gaming experiences, virtual travel tours, social interactions with avatars, educational simulations, and medical treatments for mental health conditions like PTSD.  

However, the uses for Virtual Reality in today's world are seemingly endless, and are also being used for the following industries:  

  • Entertainment: VR can immerse users in games and other forms of media such as movies and 360-degree videos. By using headsets such as the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, users can enter simulated environments and interact with them in ways that are not possible in the real world.  
  • Education: VR can be used to take students on field trips without leaving their classroom or home. With an array of headsets available on the market today, students can get an up-close view of distant historical sites without ever leaving their desk chairs or couches. Schools have also been using 360-degree cameras to capture footage from different locations around the world so students can explore virtually without having to leave school premises.  
  • Recreation and sports: VR has made it possible for people worldwide to participate in exciting activities without stepping outside their homes. From rock climbing walls to skydiving scenarios - there’s no end to what people can do with virtual reality technology at their fingertips.  
  • Healthcare purposes: VR is being used more and more frequently by doctors and therapists alike as it allows them to accurately simulate medical conditions or injuries before performing surgery or providing treatment. Additionally, therapeutic applications of Virtual Reality have increased significantly over recent years as it helps individuals suffering from PTSD by allowing them to emotionally reconnect with traumatic events under controlled circumstances which aren’t always possible through traditional therapies alone.  
  • Research laboratories: Around the globe, scientists are using Virtual Reality for data collection and analysis purposes due to its ability to precisely capture movement patterns along with physiological signals such as heart rate and blood pressure which helps researchers gain insights that weren't available before.  

All things considered - Virtual Reality has certainly come a long way since its inception and continues pushing boundaries further year after year!  

Tools Needed to Use Virtual Reality  

Similar to augmented reality, there are several tools that people need to use in virtual reality (VR). Here are some of the main tools required for VR:  

1. VR headset

A VR headset is the primary device required for experiencing virtual reality. The headset displays a virtual environment in front of the user's eyes and often includes sensors to track the user's head movements.  

2. VR-enabled device

A VR-enabled device, such as a gaming console or high-end PC, is required to power the VR headset and run the VR software.  

3. VR software

VR software, such as games or other interactive applications, are necessary to provide the virtual environment that the user will experience.  

4. Controllers

Depending on the VR experience, specialized controllers may be required to interact with the virtual environment. These may include handheld controllers, motion controllers, or even full-body tracking suits.  

5. Accessories

Some VR experiences may require additional accessories, such as headphones, to enhance the immersive experience.  

Overall, the specific tools needed for VR can vary widely depending on the level of immersion and interactivity required. High-end VR experiences often require powerful hardware and specialized software, while simpler experiences can be accessed with more basic VR equipment.  

What is Computer Vision in AR & VR?  

Computer vision (CV) is a key technology used in both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to enable a more immersive and interactive experience for users.

CV involves the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence to enable computers to interpret and understand the visual world in the same way that humans do.  

In augmented reality, CV is used to recognize and track real-world objects and environments, enabling digital content to be overlaid onto the user's physical environment.

CV algorithms are used to identify and track the user's location, orientation, and movement, as well as to recognize and track real-world objects and surfaces.

This allows AR applications to overlay digital content onto real-world objects and surfaces, creating a more interactive and engaging experience.  

In virtual reality, CV is used to create a more realistic and immersive virtual environment. CV algorithms are used to track the user's movement and orientation, allowing the virtual environment to respond in real-time to the user's actions.

This creates a more natural and intuitive experience for the user, as they can move and interact with the virtual environment in the same way that they would in the real world.  

CV is also used in VR to create more realistic and detailed virtual objects and environments. By using CV algorithms to analyze real-world objects and environments, developers can create more accurate and detailed virtual representations of these objects and environments in VR.

This can help to create a more immersive and realistic experience for the user, as they can interact with virtual objects and environments that look and behave like real-world objects and environments.  

Overall, CV is a crucial technology in both AR and VR, enabling a more immersive, interactive, and realistic experience for users.

As CV technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more exciting and innovative applications of AR and VR in the future. 

What Are the Key Differences Between AR and VR?  

The difference between AR and VR lies primarily in how each technology interacts with reality: augmented reality adds digital elements to an existing environment while virtual reality creates its simulated universe.  

In addition to this difference in apps available for each platform, there are also several key differences in terms of cost and complexity between AR and VR development platforms.

While individual developers may be able to create simple applications using off-the-shelf tools like Unity or Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), more complex projects require advanced programming experience as well as access to expensive hardware components such as head-mounted displays and motion capture systems.  

Additionally, due to the intensive computing power needed to render three-dimensional graphics in real-time within VR environments, developing full-scale virtual worlds often requires significant investments in powerful computers or cloud computing services like Amazon Web Services (AWS).  

Overall, augmented reality is less costly and easier to develop than virtual reality due to its reliance on existing physical environments rather than creating entirely new ones from scratch.

However, it does not provide nearly as immersive an experience as virtual reality does since it only enhances what the user already knows rather than bringing them into an entirely different world altogether.  

Therefore, depending on what type of application you are trying to create – whether it be something more interactive or just informational – both technologies have strengths that should be carefully considered when deciding which platform is right for your project needs.  

How AR and VR are Used in Marketing  

As we’ve established, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are two of the most talked about technologies in recent years. But how do AR and VR improve marketing campaigns 

AR is a technology that overlays digital information on top of the real world. VR creates an entirely virtual environment that users can interact with.

Both have huge marketing potential, as they can be used to create engaging and immersive experiences for consumers.  

Some brands have already begun to experiment with VR and AR. For example, Coca-Cola released a campaign called "The Happiness Factory" that used AR to bring a 3D version of the cartoon characters from its advertising to life.

Meanwhile, Samsung has created several VR experiences to promote its products, such as one that allows users to explore a virtual tour of Barcelona.  

As these examples show, AR and VR can be used to create exciting and engaging brand experiences that people will remember long after they've finished using them.

If you're looking to create an impactful marketing campaign, it's worth considering using one or both of these technologies.  

Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality – Key Takeaways 

Though the lines between augmented reality and virtual reality are beginning to blur, we can see that there remain some distinct differences between VR and AR: AR is more about enhancing or supplementing an existing experience, while VR completely immerses users in a new, simulated world.  

Additionally, VR typically requires expensive hardware like headsets and controllers, while AR can be accessed through most smartphones. Finally, VR is better suited for solitary experiences, while AR lends itself to more social interactions.  

There’s no doubt that both AR and VR can work in just about every industry and serves as a one-size-fits-all solution. With all of that said, there’s still much debate over which of these technologies will eventually reign supreme. 

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