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What is the Difference Between AR and VR?

What is the Difference Between AR and VR?

Reading time: 5 minutes
Virtual reality (VR) has finally come of age. Nowadays, you’re able to choose between a variety of advanced VR headsets, and there’s a wide array of VR games and applications that are easy to download. It’s a far cry from where the technology was 10 years ago.
With the VR revolution, we’ve also seen the rise of augmented reality (AR). Not only has AR gained widespread popularity in gaming, but it’s also been incorporated in a variety of different industries. What’s the difference between AR vs VR, and how are they being applied for non-gaming purposes?
Find out the difference between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), how these advanced technologies are being used in reality today across multiple industries, and how the projected value of these technologies will shape the future of human computer interaction and virtual gaming.
What is the Difference Between AR and VR Infographic

Augmented reality vs virtual reality

While augmented reality and virtual reality have similar names, but they’re actually very different. Let’s compare AR vs VR.

What is virtual reality?

In virtual reality, users get to interact with a virtual world. Users are brought into a simulated reality in which their sight and hearing is stimulated. The goal is to immerse the user into a virtual world and prevent them from seeing the real world. VR is about 75% virtual and 25% real.
Most of the time, virtual reality utilizes a VR headset that’s equipped with speakers and a display that encompasses your entire vision. Since virtual reality requires a large amount of processing power, you may need to get a VR gaming computer to run more intensive VR applications.

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality amplifies your real-world surroundings by adding virtual features that the user may interact with. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality doesn’t try to immerse the user and block out the real world - it just overlays graphics and animation on top of real-world environments.
AR utilizes a variety of different mediums, from headsets to apps to digital cameras.

Rising demand for AR vs VR

AR and VR are more popular than ever before, and both are trending upward. By 2020, the combined market size of virtual reality and augmented reality is expected to reach $150 billion. Gaming is largely responsible for the growing demand. It is predicted that there will be 216 million AR and VR gamers by 2025.
But gaming isn’t the only reason why AR and VR are gaining rapid popularity. Both technologies are seeing practical use in lots of different industries.

Applications for AR and VR

1. Entertainment

You’re probably most familiar with VR and AR when it comes to gaming. How is gaming on AR vs VR?
VR incorporates a VR headset and handheld controllers that you use to “move” around your virtual environment and fight virtual enemies. Unsurprisingly, they tend to be first-person shooters because that genre perfectly matches the experience of wearing a VR headset. Popular VR games include Beat Saber, Vader Immortal, and Arizona Sunshine.
AR, on the other hand, offers gamers a more social gaming experience that’s not as visually immersive as a VR world, but is arguably much larger in scope. Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite exemplify the AR game. In both games, you traverse the virtual map by moving around your real-life environment. The games use real-world locations to place virtual combatants and collectibles, and there’s a heavy emphasis on collaborating with other players.
But gaming isn’t the only kind of AR/VR entertainment. You can also use virtual reality to watch movies and to virtually attend concerts - there are also videos that are shot in 360 degrees so they can be experienced in VR. Furthermore, there are VR applications that simulate exotic destinations.

2. Healthcare

Both AR and VR have very important applications in the medical field. New surgeons can use virtual reality to practice difficult surgical procedures. VR can also produce a three-dimensional representation of a patient’s anatomy so the surgeon can plan out the procedure ahead of time.
Augmented reality is also useful for medical practice. AR can provide surgeons with digital overlays that improve their depth perception. It’s also being used to help rehabilitate patients.

3. Education

Virtual reality is being implemented in job training. One of the earliest applications of VR has been in flight simulators for pilots-in-training. These flight simulators help pilots hone their skills in a safe and cost-effective way. VR also provides an immersive simulation space for other kinds of training, like for police, retail employees, and office workers.
Augmented reality has seen practical use in schools and is increasingly being used as a visual aid to help students grasp difficult concepts. These types of AR apps are also helpful in engaging students who are underperforming.

4. Manufacturing

Virtual reality and augmented reality are improving safety and efficiency in the manufacturing industry. Plant managers can use virtual reality to simulate the production process and test assembly line configurations - which is helpful in identifying potential safety issues.
With augmented reality, employees can get easy visual instructions on how to properly assemble a certain product. An AR workstation can help employees be more proficient and safe.

5. Real estate

The most obvious benefit to virtual reality in real estate is that potential homebuyers can virtually view a home, which saves time for both the homebuyers and for real estate agents. Real estate agents can even add virtual furniture to an empty home to make it appear homier.
Augmented reality is also being applied in the real estate world, mostly when it comes to furniture. Major furniture stores, like IKEA, use an AR app to let you virtually sample a piece of furniture in your home before you buy it.

6. Logistics

AR and VR are being used by businesses to improve productivity and safety in the logistics industry. Augmented reality (especially through use of smart glasses) can help new employees navigate a large warehouse and learn where to stock goods. Like in the manufacturing industry, virtual reality can be used to practice safety procedures.

7. Military

Virtual reality saw its first real practical use with the military when the first flight simulators were developed. Nowadays, VR is also used to put soldiers through intricate combat simulations. Augmented reality, on the other hand, is incorporated via heads-up displays in vehicles, weapons, and eyewear.


Learn more about augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and how these technologies are constantly evolving on HP® Tech Takes.

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