Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: February 1, 2022  •  6 min read  •  Tech
Approved Course is reader-supported. If you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are becoming two terms you’re probably hearing quite a bit. They have started to become mainstream with new technology bringing VR to the masses.

It might seem like augmented reality and virtual reality are interchangeable. However, they are quite different. Both offer an excellent new type of technology for education, gaming, marketing, and so much more. They both provide an upgraded experience with a combination of the real world with the virtual world.

It’s easy to confuse AR and VR. Even if you’ve never put on a VR headset or used your smartphone to chase down a Pokémon, you have probably heard of both. While they are similar, in some ways, augmented reality and virtual reality are different. Let’s look at the differences and what both are, exactly.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is a type of technology that will combine the physical world with the digital world. This creates a unique virtual experience through an app. AR technology is often used to provide a pop-out of texts, emails, or 3D photographs. It can also be used to overlay scores on a sports game on the TV.

This type of technology will use mapping, depth tracking, and computer vision to provide the content to the user. It will access cameras to process data to display the digital materials. With augmented reality, the user will have the physical surroundings enhanced in real-time.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality, according to uplarn.com, is “a computer-generated representation of another universe or reality is known as virtual reality (VR).” You have likely seen VR in 3D movies, video games, or virtual home tours. More recently, virtual reality has become very popular within the gaming community.

This type of technology helps to create a realistic simulation through the use of computers and sensory instruments, such as a headset and hand controllers. Virtual reality technology can be used for education, science, training, gaming, and other forms of entertainment.

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality: The Key Differences

Both of these new forms of technology are growing in popularity. However, they are not the same thing. Let’s look at a few of the key differences.

The Environment

When you put on a VR headset, you are transformed into a virtual environment. It’s a completely immersive experience and you will likely feel like you have entered another world.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, will add to your current environment. You won’t be transformed into another environment. Instead, AR will enhance your current surroundings.

The visual senses within the virtual reality world are controlled by the system. With augmented reality, you will always be aware of the real environment and you control the visual senses.

The percentages break down as follows:

Required Internet Speed

When you decide to use virtual reality technology, you will need an internet connection of at least 50 Mbps. This will give you a completely immersive experience within the VR world.

Choosing augmented reality technology will require a bandwidth of 100 Mbps. AR technology requires a faster connection to work properly.

Equipment Needed

Maybe you have a VR headset or have been to a VR gaming facility. If you want to enjoy virtual reality, you will need a headset and often controllers. However, some systems will allow your hands to become the controllers.

Augmented reality doesn’t require a headset. It can be used through an app on your smartphone or desktop computer.

Interaction

When you experience augmented reality, you will interact with virtual items in a real environment. You will remain in touch with the real world throughout the experience.

A VR experience will seclude the user from the actual real environment. You will be immersed in a fictional world when you use virtual reality technology.

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality: Current Applications

According to an article published on LinkedIn.com, the current real-life applications of augmented reality include:

Another article from IoTDunia.com lists the top 10 applications of virtual reality in the real world, which include:

Of course, the boom of virtual reality gaming is the most popular use right now.

Both types of technology have real-world applications. They can be used in many different ways. Choosing which one is right for you may depend on what you’re trying to do or experience.

How to Choose Between AR and VR

In some cases, AR and VR might both be utilized for your needs. It depends on what you’re trying to do and the experience you want to provide. Since these are two very different types of technology, one might work better for you than another.

If you’re looking to enjoy a social experience and gaming experience, virtual reality is likely the right option. You can purchase a VR headset with controllers and enjoy plenty of games and experiences. Many of these systems even offer a social element within some of the games.

However, if you’re looking to grow your business, augmented reality might be the right choice. This type of technology can help you help customers. For example, Amazon recently released technology allowing customers to see a piece of furniture in their room where they might place it after purchase.

AR and VR have different applications, but you might be able to utilize both, in some cases. However, it’s likely that augmented reality and virtual reality will work for different applications.

These two growing types of technology are becoming very popular. With virtual reality available to use in your home for gaming, it’s likely going to continue to grow. Augmented reality technology used to be looked at as a science fiction thing for movies. Today, it’s used in many different ways.

Understanding the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality can help you make the right decision. Whether you’re trying to enjoy a virtual world or augment the reality around you, these two types of technology are great choices.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!