Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) combined have helped us visualize how we can use digital technologies to develop human society.
With the use of VR and AR technologies, we have been able to improve engineering, healthcare, education, entertainment, real estate, and other industries despite both tech concepts being at the early stages of their development.
However, it’s important to know that while these two technologies are often used together under one umbrella term known as “Metaverse,” there are key differences between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
As a result, if you are one of those who confuses the distinction between AR and VR.
Or, you have no idea what separates these two technological innovations.
Here are the differences between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
1. Partially vs Completely Virtual Environment
Augmented reality adds to reality. It aims to augment properties in a user’s physical environment with virtual properties.
AR only supplements the physical properties by providing additional information about the properties (like projecting images over what you look at) without totally replacing them with virtual properties.
To illustrate, AR is like photo editing; the objective isn’t to replace the original image. It’s to make it better.
Therefore, augmented reality consists of both physical and virtual environments.
Virtual reality replaces reality. On the other hand, it provides a completely virtual environment that is made out of computer simulations and consists of virtual properties that replace real-life properties.
VR creates a new reality and aims to completely replace the user’s real-world environment with a virtual one.
In the 3D artificial environment that virtual reality generates, the user is replaced by an avatar (a virtual representation of the user), which imitates the user’s movements in the virtual world.
To illustrate, a medical student learning about a surgical operation can do so with a computer-generated representation of the human body without putting a patient’s health at risk.
Unlike with augmented reality, where the student just gets helpful information about the patient and the surgical operation.
Also read: Pros and Cons of Augmented Reality In Education
2. Mastery of Your Physical Presence in Your Real-World Environment
Virtual reality provides an immersive virtual experience which aims to completely replace the real-world environment of the user.
This means that a user loses track of the events in their physical environment while using VR devices such as headsets, glasses, and other head-mounted displays.
The computer-generated artificial environment completely replaces the physical world; therefore, the user is only aware of their virtual experience.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, doesn’t replace the real-world environment with a virtual one. The user is still aware of the happenings in their physical environment while using an AR device.
Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR): Which is Better?
Augmented reality uses a real-life environment and allows users to control their presence in the real world. There’s also the fact that AR is more accessible than VR, as users can access AR through their smartphones, unlike with VR, where you need head-mounted displays, body connectors, and motion detectors for an immersive experience.
AR wins in terms of safety, with risks of addiction, physical injuries, motion sickness, eye strain, and other health challenges associated with VR.
However, virtual reality is currently a better performing technology, statistically, and has been adopted in many industries. Most notably, the gaming industry.
In addition, most users tend to use more VR technology than AR technology, mostly because VR offers an immersive experience and allows them to create their own reality and explore the world.