How does Augmented Reality differ from Virtual Reality

How does Augmented Reality differ from Virtual Reality

We are now at a stage in technology where we can realize our dreams of virtual reality. In decades past, virtual reality was in its infancy and the technology was extremely crude and cumbersome. Fast forward to the present however and virtual reality now is just that – a reality. We have a myriad of fantastic VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and we can now immerse ourselves in virtual reality worlds and even play games using VR technology too.

To complement this, another similar technology has also emerged – augmented reality. People often confuse the two technologies and believe they are the same thing – whilst they do indeed share similarities, virtual an augmented reality are two completely different things. This article explains the differences and sheds light on this subject:

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is a computer-generated environment that is meant to simulate a real-life environment or situation. When using virtual reality technology, a user is fully immersed within that environment and they have no vision of the outside world from behind their headset. For example, you could put on a VR headset and be immersed in a computer-generated vision of space – you would feel as if you were in space and be able to see the planets and stars in three dimensions.

Virtual reality worlds are predominantly created using VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language). This language creates a series of 2D images that can then be translated into 3D immersive images by the VR viewing device and its lenses.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality also uses computer-generated 3D images, but places those image in real-world environments. Augmented reality effectively mixes our reality together with aspects of virtual reality to create a composite. This composition can be used for a myriad of different purposes but it is easy to tell both reality and the augmented creations apart.

Augmented reality is used to enhance our real-world experiences by adding in digital graphics too in a realistic way. For example, the augmented reality game Pokemon Go allows us to view our real world as we are walking, but inserts computer-generated monsters that we can interact with into that real-world scenario. The game and AR technology make it look as if the monsters are actually there in front of us.

Both of these types of technology are seeing a surge in development and usage. We now have a host of VR headsets that allow us to play VR games and apps, and we have a plethora of augmented reality apps and games being developed for smartphones. As time progresses, the complexity and quality of both VR and AR will only improve and we will be able to enjoy more immersive VR worlds and seamless AR technology that is hard to differentiate from the real world.

So to summarise – Virtual Reality constructs complete virtual worlds with which we can immerse ourselves in and interact with. Augmented Reality, on the other hand, constructs virtual objects that are implanted into our real-world environment.

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