What is the real difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality?

AR & VR seem to be the next big thing in the tech world but what really are they? Both are in the market to change the way that we interact in the digital space. With both rapidly rising to the top, more and more people are getting the two confused and are using the terms interchangeably without knowing the difference. Yes, I agree that on the first instance, there are many similarities between the two however with further investigation, the two are very different.

So, what is Virtual Reality? “Virtual reality is a computer simulated reality in which a user can interact with replicated real or imaginary environments. The experience is totally immersive by means of visual, audio and haptic (touch) stimulation so the constructed reality is almost indistinguishable from the real deal. You’re completely inside it.

Marked by clunky beginnings, the idea of an alternate simulated reality took off in the late ’80s and early ’90s, a time when personal computer development exploded and a lot of people became excited about what technology had to offer. These attempts, like the disastrous Nintendo Virtual Boy which shut down after only one year, were marked by failure after failure, so everyone seemed to lose faith in VR.

Then came Palmer Luckey, who is undoubtedly the father of contemporary VR thanks to his Oculus Rift. Luckey built his first prototype in 2011, when he was barely 18, and quickly raised $2 million with Kickstarter. In 2014, Facebook bought Oculus Rift for $2 billion. Other popular VR headsets include Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard.”

With that being said, I guess you are now wondering what the Augmented Reality really is now? “While VR completely immerses the user in a simulated reality, AR blends the virtual and real. Like VR, an AR experience typically involves some sort of goggles through which you can view a physical reality whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. In augmented reality, the real and the non-real or virtual can be easily told apart.

Wearing Google Glass — the biggest effort a company ever made to bring AR to mass consumers — you can walk through a conference hall and see things ‘pop to life’ around the booths, such as animated 3D graphics of an architecture model if the technology is supported. The goggles aren’t even necessary since you can do this via mobile apps which use a smartphone’s or tablet’s camera to scan the environment while augmented elements will show on the display. There are other creative means, as well.

Unfortunately, Google Glass didn’t take off and the company discontinued the product in 2015. Instead, AR apps on smartphones are much more popular, possibly because they’re less creepy than a pair of glasses with cameras.

Perhaps the most revealing example of AR is Pokémon Go, a viral phenomenon which amassing more than 100 million downloads in a few week. In Pokémon Go, you use your smartphone to find Pokémon’s lurking in your vicinity with the help of a map that’s build based on your real-life GPS signal. To catch the Pokémon you have to throw a pokeball at it by swiping on your mobile’s screen and when you toggle AR on, you can see the Pokémon with the real world in the background.”

By Danielle Harris - LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielleharrisvertex/