Do You Know the Difference Between VR and AR?

Virtual reality or VR is a hot topic right now that is consistently trending on the technology section of all major new sites. However, the acronyms VR and AR seem to be used quite interchangeably, although they are very different. Let’s address what they really are:

Virtual Reality (VR) is an artificially created, computer-generated simulation of a real-life event, situation or environment. It allows the viewer to be fully immersed into this environment using headsets like the Oculus Rift. The viewer is able to interact with the simulated environment through a 360-degree viewing and through sensory cues such as sounds and animations.

How does it work:

VR headsets work by tracking your head and body’s movement through sensors as it moves through space and shows the viewer the foreign environment through one or two screens.

What it could be used for:

Games – VR gaming is already on the rise, thanks to standalone VR devices on the market like the HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR. Developers are taking interest in the new market of VR gaming, and more games are being released every month.

Therapy – According to an article by PC Mag, VR can make exposure therapy a lot more accessible. For example, USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies uses Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan to help veterans cope with PTSD.

Education – VR will allow students to be fully immersed in a learning environment like never before. For example, instead of having medical students operate on cadavers, VR will be able to simulate the surgical environment to a high degree of accuracy.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a computer-generated simulation that acts as an overlay on top of existing, real-life content. The content can be removed and is not part of the simulation, unlike VR. It does not fully immerse the viewer.

How does it work:

AR does not need a headset and can be fully accessible even with your phones or other mobile devices. While VR replaces reality, AR complements reality, by using GPRS to obtain information about a geographical location and to add certain elements on top of it. For example, the widely popular game Pokemon Go uses AR to find the player’s location and creates interactive creatures that appear randomly in-game, while social media application Snapchat also uses AR to detect faces to add fun facial filters.

What it could be used for:

Architecture – Because of its overlay nature, AR does wonders for architects when prototyping and correcting layouts. Virtually generated images could be layered on top of existing models or buildings before projects are executed, saving a lot of time and effort.

Military – The U.S army has already implemented AR technologies to aid sensor operators using telescopic cameras to locate people or points of interest. It allows for the viewer to gain more information about their environment instantly, with accuracy.

The many uses of VR and AR breed unlimited possibilities, which is why they still remain such hot topics. Although AR and VR are technically different, they are complements to each other and are truly tools of innovation for the future.

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