Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are two terms often thrown in the same conversation. You can credit that to the rise of VR headsets such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and AR apps such as Pokemon Go and Holo. However, in as much as they are related, VR and AR are two different technologies.

The common ground between VR and AR

The similarity between VR and AR is that they both alter how you perceive your surroundings. In other words, they change your reality. How they alter your perception of reality is the difference.

Virtual reality

VR takes you somewhere else; to a virtual world. A VR headset is opaque, meaning it blocks you from seeing your surroundings, and give you the impression you are in a different place. These headsets have lenses and panels that fill your vision with whatever you want to be displayed. It could be a game, a 3D video, or any other virtual space.

In games, VR might have you in the cockpit of the Air Force One. In an exploration app, for example, you might find yourself at the top of Mt. Everest and feel that you are actually there.

In simpler terms, VR replaces your current reality with a virtual one. And, it does not matter where you are, as long as you have the right VR tool.

Augmented reality

AR, on the other hand, adds something to your current reality. AR does not necessarily use headsets. It can use a camera, like in Pokemon Go. However, whether through headsets or your phone, it displays your current surrounding in real time, but it adds digital elements that are not there.

A seamless application of AR is the filters and emojis of camera apps such as Snapchat. The app uses camera technology to detect your face, then it adds graphics, such as bunny ears. In reality, you do not have bunny ears; the app simply augments them.

Conclusion

Both AR and VR are gaining speed and becoming more relevant to the market. Every major tech company has a VR headset, and AR apps are boasting of millions of users. These two pieces of technologies will define how we use computers in the near future. It is only fair, you learn more about them, their differences, and how their application in the real world.

Photo: 2017 VR for Change Summit Arcade by Games for Change licensed under Creative Commons 4.0