Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are modern technologies in many fields, including education, e-commerce, marketing, gaming, entertainment, training, and remote diagnosis.
Both technologies can enhance or replace real-life experiences with simulated ones.
In the age of smartphones, computers, and high-definition televisions, we are entering a new world of excitement. AR and VR are changing how we use screens by creating unique and new interactive experiences.
In this era, around 90% of companies are leveraging AR and VR technology.
Well, the appeal is evident as many businesses have already begun understanding the actual use of these technologies.
Hence, there can never be a better time than now to use technology to enhance your customer experiences.
For example, if you are in a marketing firm, you can show your customers how to use the product in real-time and what advantage they will get with the product.
Both AR and VR effectively immerse customers in a more interactive, personalized, and engaging way.
But how to decide which technology among the two is better for your business?
In this article, I’ll answer this by highlighting the key difference between AR and VR and also explain each technology separately, their advantages, applications, features, and some examples.
Let’s get started!
What Is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Augmented reality (AR) is becoming the most significant technology and is growing bigger as AR-ready devices are now more accessible worldwide. It lets us see the real-life environment virtually, such as trees in the park, kids playing badminton, dogs chasing balls, and many more scenarios.
Augmented reality is defined as a system consisting of three essential features:
- Combination of real worlds and virtual worlds
- Real-time interactions
- Accurate 3D view of real and virtual objects
The sensory information you will view on the screen can be additive or mask the natural environment.
For example, when you open an AR-ready application on your device to see what your 2-acre land would look like after construction and maintenance per a given design. You will not encounter any natural objects. Instead, you will view and experience only the virtual objects giving a clear idea of how your land would resemble.
AR is used to enrich natural environments and offer enhanced experiences. It offers an enhanced look and feel of the world you are in, which is artificial, adding value to the existing scenario.
The hardware components used for AR are a processor, sensors, input devices, and a display. Modern devices like tablets or smartphones contain these components along with the microelectromechanical system’s sensors, such as a solid-state compass, GPS, accelerometer, etc., and camera.
The two important technologies used in AR are reflective waveguides and diffractive waveguides.
Example: The most played game globally, Pokemon Go, released in 2006, is the best example of AR technology. Players locate Pokemon characters on their devices and capture them in this game.
Features and Benefits of AR
Augmented reality is taking the speed of a bullet in enhancing its usability across many enterprises. Its use is so simple that an individual without much technical skill can use this technology and perform certain functions.
Some of the features and benefits of AR are:
AR systems support a geolocation tracker that helps you view artificial objects in the real world through an AR-ready lens.
Let’s take the same example of Pokemon Go. When you search for Pokemons, you will find them only because of the geo-location tracker.
AR shows the accurate objects near you when you want to see them. Although it may not be 100% accurate, its accuracy level is near 100%, so you can closely feel and see natural objects.
For example, when you play Pokemon Go and search for Pokemons, you will see artificial Pokemon in 3D reality. Another example we can take is the measurement applications that can measure the quantity, distance, weight of any object, etc., and provide precise results.
Ease of Use
The mechanism and concept behind AR technology are so simple that a person can easily use it on any device irrespective of whether they have knowledge or experience in using AR.
For example, if you want to measure one wall to another, just download an AR-ready application, give access to your AR-ready camera, and easily measure the distance in your preferred units.
The concept of AR is to superimpose virtual information on a view of the real world. So, the key feature of AR is that AR changes virtual information dynamically while real-world information is the same. The moment you move around, the information you see on the screen can be changed instantly to show the result.
What Is Virtual Reality (VR)?
Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated environment with objects and scenes that appear to be real and user-friendly so that users can feel the virtual environment in their real world. You can perceive such an environment through a Virtual Reality headset which looks like a helmet.
The major applications of VR are entertainment, education, marketing, training, virtual meetings, and more. The virtual reality systems generate realistic sounds, images, and other real sensations that immerse you in an artificial world.
A person who wears a VR headset can look around, move around, interact with virtual items or features, and do much more. You will find various methods of virtual reality, including:
- Simulation-based virtual reality
- Avatar image-based virtual reality
- Projector-based virtual reality
- Desktop-based virtual reality,
Other forms of VR could be head-mounted display, AR, Mixed reality (MR), cyberspace, and simulated reality.
Modern Virtual reality headsets can have components like:
- Motion sensors for tracking head movement, body, and hand positions
- Small, fast, and lightweight computer processors
- Small HD screens for a full display
Although it seems to be futuristic, in reality, its origin is not recent. The first machine, Sensorama, was built to play 3D movies where you can sense odors, vibrations, movements, and other effects and enjoy a realistic experience.
Subsequent research and development come with a new form of independent VR devices that a person can easily buy, attach a mobile device in the front, and feel the virtual objects in their home.
Example: Virtual lab environment can be conducted for experiments such as going deep into a human brain to learn its chemistry, virtual trips to Mars or space, museum experiences, exploring ancient worlds, and many more.
Features and Benefits of VR
Virtual Reality is becoming one of the highest-level multimedia applications due to its immense fidelity and interactivity system. It supports powerful system simulation technology.
VR combines various techniques and technologies, including computer graphics, computer vision, network technology, microelectronics technology, Smart technology, visual physiology, speech recognition, and more.
Some of the features and benefits of VR include:
The other word for immersion is the presence which refers to the degree of real-time virtual objects’ reality. You can put yourself in a world of virtual images or videos by wearing interactive devices, such as data gloves and helmet-mounted displays. These devices make you feel like you are in the real world but are not.
Since VR technology is developed with responsive and sensing devices for hearing, kinesthetics, touch, and sight, you can obtain multiple perceptions through human-computer interaction. VR helps you expand your perception and cognition capabilities to establish a human-machine environment.
Interaction refers to the degree of involvement of objects in the virtually designed environment. The human-machine interaction in the virtual world is natural-like interaction. The movement of your head, eyes, language, body, and hands adjusts the image and audio.
Sensory Management System
Suppose you are watching some video in your VR headset, and there are sudden sound, vibration, direction, and movement changes. Now, you can sense the changes.
For example, you can sense everything if you are viewing Jurrasic World in your VR headset, the roaring sound of Dinosaurs, the running effect, the wind effect, etc. You will feel like you are in the world of Dinosaurs.
Developers have designed VR with different concepts. One of those concepts is artistic inclination. Here, the artist focuses on the atmosphere, entertainment, and engaging factor so that it will attach to your mind so that you can feel the changes automatically.
AR vs. VR: Similarities
AR and VR are similar. Both are equally capable of offering virtual objects in real life. Here, we understand what those similarities are:
- In both cases, you require 3D content. You can use 2D content in the case of AR.
- Both can show magnified and life-sized objects.
- You can use AR and VR on your laptops, PCs, smartphones, etc.
- You will find advanced motion tracking of hand, eye, finger, and more.
- Both offer immersion.
- Gadgets utilized are the same for both.
- Both are used in diverse industries.
- The skill sets required are also the same for AR and VR developers.
AR vs. VR: Key Differences
Augmented reality and virtual reality are confusing technologies as they share similar techniques. They have vast use in our near future. There are many options for those interested in AR and VR to play on their smartphones, tablets, PCs, and VR headsets, like movies, games, and 3D content.
Having a lot of similarities, both are still different from one another. Although both relate to virtual objects, users can vary slightly according to their hardware and software.
Let’s look at some significant differences between AR and VR:
- Augmented reality uses a real-world scenario to put a virtual item or object which can be viewed through a lens. On the other hand, virtual reality is entirely virtual, even the surroundings.
- AR users can control their minds and presence in the real world, whereas VR systems guide VR users.
- You can access AR on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. But, to access VR, you need a headset.
- AR enhances the virtual and real world and makes your work simple, whereas VR enhances the fictional reality.
Some more differences between the two reality technologies are:
|Augmented Reality (AR)||Virtual Reality (VR)|
|AR augments the true-world scene||VR is entirely immersive virtual surroundings|
|Here, you can sense your own presence along with virtual objects||Here, your visual senses are controlled by the system. You can only sense the objects, sounds, etc., from the picture in your view|
|In AR, the virtual world is 25%, and the real world is 75%||In VR, the virtual world is 75%, but the real world is 25%|
|It partially immerses you into the action||This technology fully interacts with your mind and body|
|AR requires higher bandwidth, around 100 Mbps||VR can work at low bandwidth; it requires around 50 Mbps connection bandwidth|
|It adds virtuality to the real world and enhances both virtual and real worlds||It replaces the whole reality and enhances virtual reality for many purposes, such as gaming, marketing, etc.|
|AR detects user locations and markers as well as system calls on pre-defined content||VR creates an immersive sequence of animations, URLs, videos, audio, etc.|
|Here, you do not need any headset to wear||Sometimes, you need a VR headset to enjoy the virtual world.|
|AR is the combination of real life and virtual reality||VR is all about the creation of the virtual world|
|AR is partially immersive and open||VR is fully immersive and closed|
|Tagwhat, Wikitude, Layar, Junaio, etc., are some of the AR applications||Virtual worlds like Smallworlds and Secon Life are the VR environments|
|Real-world applications are consumer and retail engagement, measuring home or items, training, education, and more||Real-world applications are Military, Education, Gaming, Medical, and more|
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality: Applications
Applications of AR
Some important applications of augmented reality are:
- AR technology lets you develop translation applications. These applications will interpret the text you have scanned in one language to another that you need.
- AR tech is also used in gaming industries for developing real-time 3D graphics and games with the help of the Unity 3D Engine tool.
- With AR, you can scan any object from your smartphone or real-time object to see if it’s available on the site or find the correct term for that object. For example, Google Lens.
- Advertising and printing industries use this technology to display digital content on the top of magazines.
Applications of VR
Some essential applications of virtual reality are:
- VR technology is used to enrich functional reality for gaming environments.
- The Military uses VR tech to train their soldiers by showing flight and battlefield simulations.
- Medical students can learn better with 3D scanning of every organ or the whole body with the help of VR tech.
- VR is also used to treat post-traumatic stress, make patients understand the real cause of their disease, and in other healthcare scenarios.
- Professionals use VR to measure a sports person’s performance and analyze techniques with the digital training device.
- VR-based devices, such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Cardboard, etc., help users to imagine an environment that doesn’t exactly exist. You can feel the environment, such as squawking penguins, the dinosaur world, the back of the dragon, and more.
Virtual reality (VR) is a well-known cousin of augmented reality (AR).
While AR superimposes virtual data on the physical world, VR replaces the real world with computer-generated reality. Both can help you enhance decision-making capability, communication, and comprehension by letting you experience a scenario that’s artificial but looks and feels natural.
VR has many applications in the entertainment industries, military, engineering, medical, etc, for training purposes. AR, on the other hand, is widely used in businesses.
Therefore, if you want the best result, combine both technologies. This will allow you to achieve much for your use case regarding adaptability, productivity, time to market, ROI, and more.
If you are a developer interested in learning about creating VR apps, check out this Coursera course.
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