Difference Between Virtual Reality And Augmented Reality


What Is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment with scenes and objects that appear to be real, making the user feel they are immersed in their surroundings. In other words, virtual reality is the use of computer technology to create simulated environments.

Virtual reality places the user inside a three-dimensional experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed in and interact with 3D worlds.

The VR process combines hardware and software to create immersive experiences that “fool” the eye and brain. Hardware supports sensory stimulation and simulation such as sounds, touch, smell or heat intensity, while software creates the rendered virtual environment.

The simplest form of virtual reality is a 3-D image that can be explored interactively at a personal computer, usually by manipulating keys or the mouse so that the content of the image moves in some direction or zooms in or out.

More sophisticated efforts involve such approaches as wrap-around display screens, actual rooms augmented with wearable computers, and haptics devices that let you feel the display images.

Virtual reality tools already help surgeons plan surgery, individuals experience a travel destination even before they take flight, children learn in a simulated (but very real) walk on the moon and soldiers train for combat scenarios, but the future will be full of even more VR applications as businesses of all kinds figure out ways the technology can enhance operations.

The three main VR categories are the following:

  • Non-Immersive Virtual Reality: This category is often overlooked as VR simply because it’s so common. Non-immersive VR technology features a computer-generated virtual environment where the user simultaneously remains aware and controlled by their physical environment. Video games are a prime example of non-immersive VR.
  • Semi-Immersive Virtual Reality: This type of VR provides an experience partially based in a virtual environment. This type of VR makes sense for educational and training purposes with graphical computing and large projector systems, such as flight simulators for pilot trainees.
  • Fully Immersive Virtual Reality: Right now, there are no completely immersive VR technologies, but advances are so swift that they may be right around the corner. This type of VR generates the most realistic simulation experience, from sight to sound to sometimes even olfactory sensations. Car racing games are an example of immersive virtual reality that gives the user the sensation of speed and driving skills. Developed for gaming and other entertainment purposes, VR use in other sectors is increasing.

These are some of the accessories used today in VR:

  • 3D Mouse: A 3D mouse is a control and pointing device designed for movement in virtual 3D spaces. 3D mice employ several methods to control 3D movement and 2D pointing, including accelerometers, multi-axis sensors, IR sensors and lights.
  • Optical Trackers: Visual devices monitors the user’s position. The most common method for VR systems is to use one or multiple fixed video cameras to follow the tracked object or person.
  • Wired Gloves: This type of device, worn on the hands, is also known as cyber gloves or data gloves. Various sensor technologies capture physical movement data. Like an inertial or magnetic tracking device, a motion tracker attaches to capture the glove’s rotation and global position data. The glove software interprets movement. High-end versions provide haptic feedback or tactile stimulation, allowing a wired glove to be an output device.
  • Motion Controllers: These accessories allow users to act in mixed reality. Controllers allow for fine-grained interaction with digital objects because they have a precise position in space.
  • Omnidirectional Treadmills (ODTs): This accessory machine gives users the ability to move in any direction physically. ODTs allow users to move freely for a fully immersive experience in VR environments.
  • Smelling Devices: Smell devices are one of the newer accessories in the VR world. Vaqso, a Tokyo-based company, offers a headset attachment that emits odors to convey the size and shape of a candy bar. The fan-equipped device holds several different smells that can change intensity based on the screen action.

What Is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced version of the real physical world that is achieved through the use of digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology. 

In other words, Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory.

Rather than provide a fully immersive virtual experience, augmented reality enhances the real-world with images, text, and other virtual information via devices such as heads-up displays, smartphones, tablets, smart lenses, and AR glasses. It is a growing trend among companies involved in mobile computing and business applications in particular.

AR combines the physical world with computer-generated virtual elements. These elements are then projected over physical surfaces in reality within people’s field of vision, with the intent of combining the two to enhance one another. Augmented reality inserts—or lays over—content into the real world using a device such as a smartphone screen or a headset.

Whereas virtual reality replaces what people see and experience, augmented reality actually adds to it. Using devices such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard, VR covers and replaces users’ field of vision entirely, while AR projects images in front of them in a fixed area.

Augmented reality is useful for more than just entertainment. Retailer IKEA created an AR app that helps shoppers visualize what certain products will look like in their home before they purchase them. The app overlays virtual versions of the products onto the real-live image of customers’ living spaces.

In addition to IKEA, companies in aviation, automotive, healthcare, travel and tourism, and more are developing augmented reality solutions. Augmented reality technology can enhance travelers’ experiences in many ways. 

Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality

DescriptionAugmented reality replaces the real world with the artificial world.Augmented reality enhances real life with artificial images and adds graphics sounds and smell to the natural world as it exist.
Real WorldThe user is fully immersed in the virtual environment and unable to perceive real world.The real-world environment is enhanced with digital objects and user can still see the surrounding.
UserEverything around the user is fabricated by the system. This may display inside a blank room, headset or other device that allows the user to feel present in the virtual environment.The user can interact with the real world and at the same time can see both the real and virtual world.
ExperienceVirtual reality is experienced by wearing virtual reality headsets (mounted or handheld-controlled).Augmented reality is generally experienced by using a smart-phone, laptop or tablet. 
PurposeThe purpose of virtual reality is to create its own reality that is completely computer-generated.The purpose of augmented reality is to enhance experience by adding virtual components such as digital images and graphics as a new layer of interaction with real world.
UserUsers are transported into a new world.Users remain in the real world.
NatureIt incorporates heavy graphics to create a virtual environment.It adds relevant information to the existing real-world view.  
ApplicationIt is used in games, medicine, military etc.It is mostly used for demonstrations, interior designing and mapping.
FormSenses of users are under the control of the system.Users maintain a sense of presence in the real world.
Manipulation of objectsUsers can move, rotate and scale 3D objects in virtual world.Users can move, rotate, scale and manipulate 3D objects in real world.
Location of experienceUsers are not at the location of the experience.Users are present at the location of experience.
MovementUsers cannot physically move in the environment.Users can physically move in the environment.