Is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Same?

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality can be defined as an experience that is simulated. This experience can be similar or completely different from the real world. A person making use of virtual reality equipment will be able to look around the virtual world, move around in it, and interact with its virtual features and items.

There are different types of virtual realities. They are sometimes classified by using the technology they are based upon. There are simulation-, avatar image-, projector-, and desktop-based virtual realities.

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Simulation-based virtual realities give their users the impression of actually performing an action by taking input from the users’ actions and giving back the corresponding cues to the user.

A common example is the driving simulator, which gives a person using it the impression of driving the actual type of vehicle selected, by predicting the vehicular motion that would be caused by the drivers’ input and feeding back the corresponding motion, visual and audio cues to the user. Another example is a cooking simulator.

In avatar image-based virtual reality, users join a virtual environment in the form of an avatar. Participation in the 3D distributed virtual environment can be in the form of a real avatar or a real video. Users select the type of participation based on the capabilities of their systems.

For projector-based virtual reality, the modeling of the real environment plays a crucial role. This category of virtual reality is used in robot navigation, construction modeling, and airplane simulation. To generate realistic models, it is very vital that acquired 3D data must be accurately registered.

Desktop-based virtual reality displays a 3D virtual world on a regular desktop display but does not make use of positional tracking equipment. First-person video games make very good examples of this category. In this form of virtual reality, there is no sense of peripheral vision.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality can be defined as an interactive experience of a real-world environment in which the objects residing in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. This enhancement can be across various sensory channels like visual, auditory, haptic, olfactory, and somatosensory.

Augmented reality can be said to be a type of virtual reality technology that combines the experience a user gets from their real surrounding with digital content that is generated by computer software. This additional digital content typically enhances the look of the real surroundings in some way.

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Augmented reality systems layer virtual information over a live feed gotten from a camera into headsets, smart glasses, or through mobile devices. This layering gives the user the ability to view 3D images.

Augmented reality is any system that carries out three basic features; the combination of both the real and virtual worlds, interaction in real-time, and an accurate 3D registration of both virtual and real objects.

The sensory information gotten from augmented reality can either be adding to the natural environment (i.e. constructive), or masking the features of the natural environment (i.e. destructive). However, the experience gotten from the sensory information is seamlessly interwoven with the real world that it can be perceived to be an immersive aspect of the real environment.

The major value of augmented reality is the manner in which the data from the digital world is displayed through the combination of different immersive sensations. This digital display is blended so well into one’s perception of the real world that they are then perceived to be natural parts of the environment.

Augmented reality displays offer a variety of digital information from simple data overlays that can show the time, to complicated data overlays that make holograms float in the middle of a room.

Is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality the Same?

Virtual reality and augmented reality are not the same. They are related but very different. They have similar designs in the devices they use but both realities accomplish different things and they do these in very different ways.

Both virtual reality and augmented reality make use of virtual objects but they differ in the method with which they use to present these virtual objects to their respective users.

What is the Difference Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality?

There are a lot of differences between the two realities from their software to their hardware and their uses. There are more differences between the two than there are similarities. Virtual reality gives users the feeling of being in another world while augmented reality puts digital virtual content into the context of the real world.

Virtual reality replaces the natural environment and transports users to a virtual environment. Augmented reality does not replace the natural environment but projects information on top of what users are already seeing.

Where virtual reality replaces the vision of its users, augmented reality adds to the vision. Virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift have closed visors and only show the virtual world, whereas augmented reality devices like smart glasses are transparent and let you see the world around you as if you were wearing weak sunglasses.

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Augmented reality technology is designed to allow completely free movement of its users while virtual reality confines its users to a more limited space.

The major challenge behind virtual reality is the ability to convince users that the virtual world they are experiencing is no different from the real word. While the major challenge in augmented reality is making the user feel that the virtual objects are part of the real world.

Which is Better Virtual reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR)?

Both virtual reality and augmented reality have their place in the world. While virtual reality is more immersive, augmented reality provides a lot more freedom for the users. Augmented reality also provides more marketing opportunities as it does not have to be confined to a head-mounted display.

Technology companies are investing heavily in augmented reality. Microsoft uses interactive holograms in augmented reality to bridge the gap between your PC and living room. This provides a more immersive and promising way to use computers.

In 2016, augmented reality took a more center stage globally with the release of Pokemon Go. The viral sensational game got pokemon out of your device and into the world. This was the first major example of augmented reality being able to find large market acceptance.

Virtual Reality: The best method of traveling to other worlds

The biggest strength of virtual reality is its ability to immerse users in the virtual world. With a proper setup that includes high-quality video, spatial audio, and high-quality motion tracking, one can start to believe in the virtual world.

For gaming and creativity, with the addition of touch controllers, a whole new dimension of immersion has been provided. Using a paintbrush or a sword in the virtual world becomes a natural action. Applications that are well implemented allow users to stay immersed with the use of nothing more than their touch controllers.

Augmented Reality: The best method of bringing other things to you

Populating your surroundings with unusual décor or with future techy holograms is made possible using augmented reality. It is also an amazing way to annotate real-world scenes with additional data. These additional data can be anything from additional information about an object you are looking at to service instructions about an elevator that needs repair.

The latest augmented reality devices have made a great leap in placing objects in the real world. The shortcomings of both the real world and virtual world light rays not being in sync have almost been overcome.

These light rays initiate neural signals in the visual part of the brain in order to create unbelievably believable experiences.

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Both virtual and augmented realities have their place depending on whether you would like to visit new worlds or bring objects not normally seen in the natural environment to you. However, there is an option that takes both of these realities a step further:

Mixed Reality: Combining the best of both worlds

Mixed reality combines the best out of both virtual and augmented realities. They can either be virtual reality devices with cameras that allow you to baseline the virtual world with the actual world or augmented reality devices with sufficient display intensity that is able to create a believable virtual reality in a portion of the visual field.

However, at the moment, there is no device that does an excellent job of combining both realities, as they involve a tradeoff that favors one reality or the other.

Technology is advancing in both realities as every year new technology is rolled out. Therefore, there is hope for the future of both being accepted by the mass market.

Examples of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality is most common in entertainment applications like video games and 3D cinemas, Ne generation of headsets like the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and the PlayStation VR have set off new waves of application development.

In 3D cinemas, virtual reality has been used for sporting events, short films, fine arts, and music videos. Roller coasters and theme parks have also incorporated virtual reality to give haptic feedback with visual effects.

Virtual reality also finds application in social sciences, psychology, medicine, education, and workplaces as cost-effective tools for therapy and training.

Augmented reality has been used to help in archaeological research, in visualizing building projects in architecture. It finds application in urban design and planning where it is used to create augmented reality maps and buildings that are projected to be viewed by environment professionals.

In Industrial manufacturing, augmented reality is used to substitute paper manuals with digital instructions thereby reducing the mental effort required to operate machines. It is also used in commerce and marketing to combine print with video marketing.

Amit Agarwal

Written by Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal is very passionate about technology, cloud computing, virtual computing and the latest happenings in the tech world. He loves to write on these topics and has received accolades from various people.

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