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Augmented Reality (AR) VS Virtual Reality (VR)

Augmented Reality (AR) VS Virtual Reality (VR): What’s The Difference?


Interested in knowing the difference between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)? From the Apple Vision Pro to the Meta Quest to the Microsoft HoloLens, we seize it up for you.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have an exhilarating possibility in the upcoming industries of marketing, gaming, e-commerce, education, and numerous other fields. The Global Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Market size was calculated at USD 34.8 Billion back in 2023 and is projected to be worth around USD 106.2 Billion by year 2033, increasing at a CAGR of 11.8% during the estimated period from 2024 to 2033 (Look at the graph below).

Global Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality


Both technologies are recognized for their augmented experience that brings together a virtual realm and the real one with improved 3-D visuals. Although it can be relaxing to mix up the two, there are some substantial differences.

What Is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality is a mesmerizing experience that separates users from the real world, usually with the assistance of a headset and headphones to help. All five senses are also able to be assimilated. Instead of integrating things into the real world, it interchanges the real world and places users in entirely new domains. The technology enables users to utilize computer automation for a three-dimensional experience.

VR headsets entirely take over your image to offer you the imprint that you’re anywhere else. The PlayStation VR 2, Meta Quest 2, the Valve Index, and other headsets are cloudy, blocking out your settings when you wear them. If you put them on when they’re turned off, you might feel as if you’re visionless.

When the headsets turn on, however, the LCD or OLED panels are diverted by the lenses to fill your ground of vision with whatever is being exhibited. It can be a game, a 360-degree video, or just the simulated space of the platforms’ interfaces. Visibly, you’re taken to wherever the receiver wants you to go, the outside setting is swapped with a virtual one, henceforth the name.

For both games and apps, virtual reality surpasses your atmospheres. Where you are substantially doesn’t matter. In games, you might sit in the arena of a star fighter. In app development, you might virtually tour detached settings as if you were there. There are tons of potentials in VR, and they all include interchanging everything around you with somewhat else. This doesn’t mean your settings are entirely out of the picture, though; most existing VR headsets are able to scan your surroundings or at least set boundaries to retain you in the area you’ve cleaned to use them and not spree over your equipment.

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Types of Virtual Reality

According to Atria University, there are three types of VR:

Non-immersive VR

It is one of the most ordinary forms and depends on a video game console or computer to create an environment. It features a computer-engendered virtual environment where users are concurrently conscious of and handle their physical environment. It’s intended to allow users to influence a computer-generated environment where users can manage activities without direct communication. A common example of non-immersive VR is video games where users can handle a character without direct communication.

Semi-immersive VR

It provides an experience based moderately in a virtual environment. It offers a virtual tour without worrying about the physical environment. Using VR glasses, users can experience virtual surroundings without physical communication. This means users can be in a virtual domain without any physical perception. The technology depends on dominant and high-resolution sensors to forward realism. Some common examples of semi-immersive VR are instructive and training materials, like flight simulators for pilots in preparation that use huge projector systems and graphical computing.

Fully immersive VR

It is the most convincing simulation experience that incorporates sound, sight and occasionally olfactory impressions. It excites as many senses as possible to create a true-to-life experience. This type of VR is entirely confined away from the physical surroundings. In fully immersive VR, the user substantially offers in the virtual world and experiences events personally. This is made possible by using apparatus like body detectors, gloves, VR headsets, sensing devices and sense detectors. A communal use of this type of VR is in a virtual gaming zone, involving players cooperating with the virtual environment to participate against each other.

What Is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is intended to overlay digital elements onto the real world. It utilizes sensors to comprehend the world around it. With a combination of GPS, accelerometers (a sensor typically in phones that measures the acceleration of the device), and gyroscopes (a device that tells when a moving object switch directions) AR apps can decipher where a user is and what direction they’re fronting.

While virtual reality is a replacement of your vision, augmented reality complements it. AR devices, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, the innovative Google Glass, and several enterprise-level “smart glasses,” are translucent, allowing you see everything in front of you as if you are tiring a pair of clear glasses.

The technology is intended for free movement while prognostic images over whatever you look at. The concept ranges to smartphones with AR apps and games, such as Pokémon Go, which use your phone’s camera to track your settings and tangibly intersect added information on top of it.

AR displays can provide something as basic as a text edge showing the time, to something as complex as holograms of furniture detached in the medium of a room. Pokémon Go ventures a Pokémon on your screen resting on top of whatever the camera is keen on. HoloLens and other smart glasses, temporarily, allow you virtually place floating app windows and 3D decorations around you.

Such displays are inclined to be costly, however, and we’ve yet to see an AR headset both convincingly priced and with enough structures to be measured in a true consumer product. Because of this, the mainstream AR experiences accessible to most people are through smartphones, using your phone’s camera and screen to augment your reality in a quite restricted vision.

Augmented reality has virtually immeasurable potential. Phone-based AR software has been identifying environments and providing added information related to what it perceives for years now, contributing live translation of text or pop-up assessments of restaurants while looking at them. Devoted AR headsets, i.e. the HoloLens, can do even more, allowing you virtually abode diverse apps as floating windows around you. They efficiently offer you an integrated, multi-screen, computing setup. However, pure AR headsets are still too costly and massive to be deliberated everyday computing objects.

Types of Augmented Reality

According to Microsoft, there are two sorts of AR:

Maker-based AR

It is activated by physical photos or markers taken by smartphone cameras to reside the digital modules on top of it. These markers can symbolize an object or visual constituent, like a QR code or a logo.

Marker-less AR

It is more complex and doesn’t depend on markers and instead lets users choose where to exhibit the content. The devices utilize a recognition algorithm to observe the patterns, colors and similar features defining what an object is. Then, the devices will depend on GPS, accelerometers, cameras and ranges to superimpose an image within the real-world surroundings.

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The Middle Ground: Mixed Reality

AR and VR were conjointly exclusive concepts at first, but easily they’ve combined into a new catch-all range of reality-shifting technology: mixed reality. Sometimes called MR or XR, mixed reality is when at beginning VR headsets integrate AR aspects into their practice.

All major VR headsets currently accessible have exterior-facing cameras that can scan your settings and offer a view of what’s close. Virtual reality becomes mixed reality when those contextual factors into what you’re doing in the headset. It can be as basic as setting borders around you, so you don’t jaunt over anything in the real world, or as intricate as taking comprehensive measurements of furniture and creating the virtual environment to replicate those physical objects.

It’s a wide-ranging term, and, ultimately, mixed reality can designate any part of the AR/VR spectrum, but we’re observing more and more robust middle ground among them. The Meta Quest Pro, for instance, has colored cameras that gives a much flawless view of your environment and project virtual screens on your desk, allowing you to work as if you had numerous monitors and even use your own keyboard and mouse instead of virtual demonstrations of them. The upcoming Apple Vision Pro also seems to have these features and will correspondingly display virtual objects through your actual environment. Apple calls its product a Spatial or 3D Computer.

Efficiently, though, both of these experiences are more VR than AR unless you’re dealing with a translucent display that overlaps information about an environment that you can look straight at, any headset is still going to entirely control what your eyes see, pixel by pixel. Pass-through video provides a taste of AR, but still you’re wearing a VR headset.

The differences between AR and VR

While both technologies comprise simulated reality, AR and VR depend on diverse fundamental components generally serving wide-ranging audiences.

In virtual reality, the user practically always wears an eye-layering headset and headphones to totally replace the real world with the virtual one. The idea of VR is to exclude the real world as much as probable and isolate the user from it. Once inside, the VR universe can be coded to provide just about anything, stretching from a light saber battle with Darth Vader to a genuine (yet entirely designed) earth’s recreation. While VR has some business applications in product design, training, architecture and retail, today the popularity of VR applications is assembled around entertainment, particularly gaming.

Augmented reality, alternatively, integrates the imitation world with the real one. In most applications the user depends on a smartphone or tablet screen to achieve this, directing the phone’s camera at a point of attention, and forming a live-streaming video of that scene on the screen. The screen is then overlapped with obliging information involving implementations such as navigation information, repair instructions, or analytical data.

But AR can also be used in entertainment applications. For instance, the mobile game Pokémon Go, in which players try to seize virtual creatures while stirring around in the real world, is a standard sample.

Here we have simplified the differences between VR and AR, in points, coming down to the devices they need and the practice itself:

  • AR improves both the virtual and real world while VR only improves fictional reality.
  • AR utilizes a real-world setting while VR is entirely virtual.
  • AR users can manage their incidence in the real world; VR users are measured by the system.
  • VR requires a headset device, but AR can be retrieved with a smartphone.

Looking Towards the Future

The mark between AR and VR won’t be going away fully any time near, but in the short term, it will become less definite as mixed reality becomes a greater factor among VR headsets. External-facing cameras and environment-scanning technology will enhance over time, and you’ll be able to get a purer look at your environment while wearing a headset, efficiently making every VR headset a mixed reality headset as well.

In the extended term, however, that line will perhaps become harsher once again. For the moment, processing needs, and display technology still bound how small and reasonable AR displays can be. The electronics that go into AR glasses are still costly and take up a reasonable amount of space. Once the constituents become small enough to connect on a pair of glasses without considerably adding to its weight, and are comparatively low-cost, devoted AR exhibitions will pull away from full vision-covering VR headsets and certainly bring the augmented reality notion into a consumer-welcoming reality. For now, your selections are big spectacles or gazing at your phone.

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Avatar for Amna Shahid

Amna Shahid, a technical content writer, is an expert in simplifying intricate notions and composing captivating narratives to participate and convey technical information efficiently. With a devotion to brilliance in this dynamic technical writing field, Amna is open to collaborating and new possibilities in this succeeding tech realm.
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Progatix, a well-known software development company, has been delivering innovative digital consultancy services & custom software solutions encouraging business growth since 2003. Our remarkable solutions involve strategic digital consultancy, legacy system migration, DevOps, and stellar testing services.

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