What is the difference between VR and AR?

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(Pocket-lint) – Virtual reality and augmented reality. VR and AR.

Hears. What does this all mean?

There is absolutely no denying that virtual reality and augmented reality have increased in importance and interest in recent years. Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds and more and more headphones are being released. The software is improving and the potential application of these systems is also expanding.

Apple is rumored to be dabbling in both spaces, for example, and could be preparing a headset that’s either VR or AR (short for virtual reality and augmented reality, respectively). Google has been working on virtual reality headsets for a while with inexpensive DIY cardboard headset kits and Daydream VR. While Facebook-owned Oculus, HTC and more have been developing new devices regularly.

If you’re new to the subject and have no idea what these terms mean or what those devices can do (or maybe you just want a little more clarification), we’re here to summarize the differences between virtual reality and augmented reality. .


What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality allows you to experience something without even leaving the comfort of your home. You can drop into a virtual war zone, travel around the world in a second, or even visit other planets. Solving puzzles, sailing the high seas, flying in a spaceship, is also possible and surprisingly believable.

The technology is a computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment that you can immerse yourself in, navigate and interact with seemingly through special hardware, like a chunky headset with hand sensors.

For virtual reality to work, there needs to be two things: hardware and software. The hardware powers the VR experience by giving you a screen to look at, for example, while the experience itself is nothing more than software, like a video game that puts you in the middle of the action. With this combo, you put on a VR headset, load up a VR app, and jump into a virtual world.

But a virtual reality experience is limiting as its focus is entirely on the world. For the most part, you can’t look around your world, but you can’t look away from it. You’re stuck with it until you take off your headphones or turn off the app. So while dodging aliens on Mars, don’t expect to check the phone in your pocket unless you want to get out of the moment entirely.

Virtual reality is completely virtual and never allows you to simultaneously enter the real world. Pocket-lint has an entirely separate piece dedicated to explaining VR, what it is, and how it works, so check it out for more details:

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What are some examples of virtual reality?

While it seems like only yesterday that the VR hysteria was reignited, it’s actually been a few years, which is plenty of time for more than a dozen companies to come out with their own VR headsets at varying price points.

There is a wide range of virtual reality headsets available. From affordable devices you can plug your smartphone into to fully-fledged flagship headsets that require a beefy gaming PC to run.

Leading the way are high-end devices like the HTC Vive Pro 2 with built-in eye tracking, the HP Reverb G2 with built-in autonomous tracking cameras, the singing and dancing Valve Index, and the standalone Oculus Quest. two .

While other companies, including Google, have gone the affordable route and introduced headphones that are mere shells for your smartphone. That’s how it is. Your smartphone can power and display a virtual reality experience along with a headset.

There are also many virtual reality experiences available to try. There are endless free experiences to download and play, as well as affordable games and experiences, and you can even watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in VR headsets.

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What is augmented reality?

Meanwhile, augmented reality allows you to experience a computer-generated simulation of a 3D or 2D environment, and all of this is superimposed on your actual view of the real world, creating a composite view. AR can also add contextual layers of information in real time, so you can see nearby restaurant suggestions, for example, as you walk down the street as 3D aliens walk past you.

Just like virtual reality, augmented reality needs both hardware and software to work. There has to be something that powers and displays augmented reality, whereas augmented reality itself is software or a game or an app designed by a developer. But the main thing to keep in mind about augmented reality is that it allows you to interact with the real world while experiencing something fully augmented at the same time.

You’ve seen AR experiences portrayed in Hollywood movies like Her, Avatar, Minority Report, Iron Man, and Wall-E. And now, thanks to advances in modern technology, some companies, like Microsoft, are making hardware that will allow us to have augmented reality experiences as well.

Unlike virtual reality systems like the Oculus Rift, HoloLens isn’t everything you see. Yes, you may see the surface of Mars in life-size 3D all around you, even below your feet. But if there’s someone next to you, you can look at them through the holographically printed lenses that give the system its name and really see them.

What are some examples of AR?

Potentially the most exciting example of an AR device is Microsoft Hololens. HoloLens is basically a holographic computer embedded in a headset that allows you to see, hear, and interact with an environment (living room, outdoors, etc.).

Microsoft built the headset without the need to be wirelessly connected to a PC. It uses high-definition lenses and spatial sound technology to create an immersive, interactive holographic experience.

Microsoft also packed the HoloLens with sensors and a high-end CPU and GPU. But Hololens is not yet available to consumers and is a high-end device that costs a small fortune. However, it is potentially powerful with many different applications that could be really useful in the real world, as the video demonstrates.

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However, there are also many other examples of AR popping up all over the place. In recent years, new software developments such as Google ARCore and Apple ARKit have appeared, bringing augmented reality experiences to mobile phones.

Now you can experience things like having AR navigation on Google Maps, seeing augmented reality creatures in search results, trying before you buy with furniture, experiencing cool realities with Lego, and much more.

In short, we will see much more of both augmented reality and virtual reality in the near future. Devices will become cheaper, experiences more accessible, and hopefully this new technology will continue to improve our entire lives.

Written by Maggie Tillman and Adrian Willings.