Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality: What’s the difference?

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one!

Can you guess who said that? In case you thought Albert Einstein, you are absolutely correct! (And in case you didn’t, do brush up on your general knowledge!) Anyway, Albert Einstein was probably not thinking about the myriad ways that modern reality can be twisted when he said this, but this quote sure fits the situation.

Both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can be used to change our reality. They can expand our vision or even transport us to wonderful new places until the only question that remains is “What is real and what is not?”. However, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are not exactly the same (If they were, they wouldn’t have different names!!!). So this article primarily tries to understand Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and through this understanding, know the answer to “What’s the Difference Between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?”.



Virtual-Reality-vs-Augmented-Reality

What’s Virtual Reality?

Imagine really traveling through the Pokemon World! This world is lush green and populated with small towns having identical looking nurses and police officers! You run around collecting pokemon and getting occasional electric shocks from Pikachu! This Pokemon World can truly exist for you using Virtual Reality.

In other words, Virtual Reality can use technology to create a simulated environment (a Pokemon environment in this case!). This simulated environment can be totally different than the reality of this world and yet you can perceive it as reality. So Virtual Reality is really just that, a “Virtual Reality” that you can move around in and experience as if you were really there. This is stated quite succinctly by Palmer Luckey, Founder of Oculus Rift as:

Why shouldn’t people be able to teleport wherever they want?

You can view Virtual Reality using a VR headset such as the Oculus Rift S, PlayStation VR, etc. Another option is just using your phone with specially designed VR apps along with Google Cardboard, Daydream View, etc.

What’s Augmented Reality?

Imagine traveling through the real world…Yes, you do it every day, but how about the addition of Pokemon! You can run around catching not-real Pokemon using your mobile phones and enjoy the presence (and shocks!) of Pikachu while still remaining in the real world. This can be achieved using Augmented Reality (Has actually been achieved by Pokemon Go!)

So Augmented Reality basically involves using technology to create an “Augmented” version of reality by superimposing digital information over the real world. This can be done using AR apps in smartphones that use the camera to display the real world and superimpose extra information like text and images onto that world.

The importance of Augmented Reality cannot be understated. According to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.

I think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

With Virtual Reality, you can actually experience the Pokemon World. On the other hand, with Augmented Reality, you can experience parts of the Pokemon World in the real world. That’s the major difference between the two realities!

Virtual Reality allows for a fully immersive experience for the viewer but it is quite restrictive as it requires a headset. In other words, you can experience a different world using Virtual Reality but you are totally cut-off from the real world for that to happen. On the other hand, Augmented Reality allows more freedom as your normal world view is merely enhanced and not replaced. Also, Augmented Reality is easier to market than Virtual Reality as it does not require any special headsets but only a smartphone (Which most of us already have!!!)

This is the reason that Augmented Reality is projected to be more relevant than Virtual Reality in the long-run. According to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.

I’m excited about augmented reality because unlike virtual reality, which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently.

But overall, both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are hot technologies currently and becoming more and more popular (and better!) with time. So be sure to enjoy this persistent illusion that is a new reality for modern times!



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