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Table of Contents

Augmented reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone. Examples of augmented reality experiences include Snapchat lenses and the game Pokemon Go. 

Virtual reality (VR) implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world. Using VR devices such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard, users can be transported into a number of real-world and imagined environments such as the middle of a squawking penguin colony or even the back of a dragon.

In a Mixed Reality (MR) experience, which combines elements of both AR and VR, real-world and digital objects interact. Mixed reality technology is just now starting to take off with Microsoft’s HoloLens one of the most notable early mixed reality apparatuses.

Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term that covers all of the various technologies that enhance our senses, whether they’re providing additional information about the actual world or creating totally unreal, simulated worlds for us to experience. It includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies.

What Are Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality?

Augmented reality and virtual reality are reality technologies that either enhance or replace a real-life environment with a simulated one.

  • Augmented reality (AR) augments your surroundings by adding digital elements to a live view, often by using the camera on a smartphone. 
  • Virtual reality (VR) is a completely immersive experience that replaces a real-life environment with a simulated one.

In AR, a virtual environment is designed to coexist with the real environment, with the goal of being informative and providing additional data about the real world, which a user can access without having to do a search. For example, industrial AR apps could offer instant troubleshooting information when a handset is aimed at a piece of failing equipment.

Virtual reality encompasses a complete environmental simulation that replaces the user’s world with an entirely virtual world. Because these virtual environments are entirely fabricated, they are often designed to be larger than life. For example, VR could let a user box with a cartoon version of Mike Tyson in a virtual boxing ring.

While both virtual reality and augmented reality are designed to bring a simulated environment to the user, each concept is unique and involves different use cases. In addition to entertainment scenarios, augmented reality is also increasingly being used by businesses, because of its ability to generate informational overlays that add useful, real-world scenarios.

We’ll delve into how both of these reality technologies work, with a specific focus on the business cases for AR, in the sections that follow.

AR and VR Overview

What is the difference between AR and VR?

While both technologies involve simulated reality, AR and VR rely on different underlying components and generally serve different audiences.

In virtual reality, the user almost always wears an eye-covering headset and headphones to completely replace the real world with the virtual one. The idea of VR is to eliminate the real world as much as possible and insulate the user from it. Once inside, the VR universe can be coded to provide just about anything, ranging from a light saber battle with Darth Vader to a realistic (yet wholly invented) recreation of earth. While VR has some business applications in product designtraining, architecture and retail, today the majority of VR applications are built around entertainment, especially gaming.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, integrates the simulated world with the real one. In most applications the user relies on a smartphone or tablet screen to accomplish this, aiming the phone’s camera at a point of interest, and generating a live-streaming video of that scene on the screen. The screen is then overlaid with helpful information, which includes implementations such as repair instructionsnavigation information or diagnostic data.

However, AR can also be used in entertainment applications. The mobile game Pokemon Go, in which players attempt to capture virtual creatures while moving around in the real world, is a classic example.

What are some examples of augmented reality and virtual reality?

Augmented reality entails abundant — and growing — use cases. Here are some actual applications you can engage with today.

  • Ikea Place is a mobile app that allows you to envision Ikea furniture in your own home, by overlaying a 3D representation of the piece atop a live video stream of your room.
  • YouCam Makeup lets users virtually try on real-life cosmetics via a living selfie.
  • Repair technicians can don a headset that walks them through the steps of fixing or maintaining a broken piece of equipment, diagramming exactly where each part goes and the order in which to do things.
  • Various sports are relying on augmented reality to provide real-time statistics and improve physical training for athletes.

Beyond gaming and other entertainment cases, some business examples of virtual reality include:

  • Architects are using VR to design homes — and let clients “walk through” before the foundation has ever been laid.
  • Automobiles and other vehicles are increasingly being designed in VR.
  • Firefighters, soldiers and other workers in hazardous environments are using VR to train without putting themselves at risk.
automobile manufacturing vr image

When were virtual reality and augmented reality first introduced?

While primitive virtual reality systems got their start in the 1950s and 1960s, the concepts of VR and AR began to gain momentum in military applications during the early 1980s. Motion pictures such as Tron, The Matrix and Minority Report all offered futuristic riffs on how these technologies would evolve in the years to come.

The first mainstream attempt at releasing a VR headset was the Sega VR in 1993, an add-on to the Sega Genesis gaming system. While it never made it to market, it did stoke consumer interest in the technology. It would not be until the Oculus Rift in 2010 that a VR headset would be successful with a consumer audience — though today these devices remain expensive and largely of interest to niche, gaming-focused users.

Augmented reality splintered from virtual reality around 1990, and was brought to the public’s attention in 1998, when TV broadcasters began overlaying a yellow line on the football field to better indicate the distance to a first down. Over the next decade, various apps around AR technology were designed for both military use (such as in fighter jet cockpits) and consumer use, when print magazines and packaged goods began embedding QR codes that could be scanned with a consumer’s cell phone, making the product “come alive” with a short 3D video.

In 2014, Google rolled out Google Glass, with an eye toward equipping everyone with a head-mounted display AR device. The AR headset, which was controlled via voice and touch gestures, was met with skepticism and criticism, attributed to the new reality that people were recording video 24/7 in public. Privacy suddenly became a major talking point in consumer AR. Google ultimately suspended the project and relaunched it a few years later with enterprise users in mind.

augmented reality and virtual reality image

How is augmented reality being used in business?

Today, business and enterprise use cases are the predominant reality applications for AR. Some key examples include:

  • Design and construction — Arguably the most common and fruitful application for AR today, designers are using augmented reality to see what hypothetical products (or structures) look like in real environments and to make virtual tweaks to existing products without ever laying a hand on them.
  • Maintenance and repairs — AR technology can guide technicians through the steps of repairing, upgrading, and maintaining a wide range of products, ranging from industrial equipment to entire buildings. AR allows technicians to work on equipment without having to refer to printed manuals or websites, overlaying detailed instructions – often visual – atop the machinery itself.
  • Training and education — Businesses are using AR technology to provide an immersive experience when training employees, allowing them to more comprehensively visualize new products and concepts. Schools are following suit.
  • Healthcare — AR technology has made its way into the surgery room, with overlays showing the critical steps of an operation, patients’ vital statistics, and more.
  • Retail — From virtual makeup to virtual changing rooms, businesses are using AR to give retail shoppers a revamped, modernized augmented reality experience when shopping.
  • Technology — Products like Splunk AR bring AR to major utility companies to improve responses during power outages, and gain full visibility into the entirety of their data.
  • Marketing — AR concepts on packaging, point-of-sale materials, and even billboards give businesses a brand new — and much more memorable — way to interact directly with customers.

(See how Splunk customers use data to forge their futures.)

What are the components of an augmented reality system?

Augmented reality varies depending on implementation, but the most common components include the following, categorized by hardware and software.

These hardware components comprise the backbone of augmented reality. Some of these components might already be supported if you are engaging in AR with your smartphone (more in the following section):

  • Processor – Augmented reality requires significant processing power to create the imagery needed and place it in the proper location for it to appear to exist in a real-world environment. Processors may be incorporated in a mobile handset or embedded into a wearable device (more on this below).
  • Display – In AR, imagery is created and then populated on some form of display. This can take several forms, depending on the specific application. These include:
    • Mobile handheld device – The smartphone or tablet screen is arguably the most common way in which AR hologram imagery is viewed. A user points his or her phone’s camera at a point of interest, and the live video hologram generated by the camera lens is overlaid with AR information.
    • Wearable device – Smart glasses such as Google Glass, Vuzix Blade, and Solos Smart Glasses are all designed as standard eyeglasses that also contain a small display only visible to the wearer. The person wearing the augmented reality headset can see the real world by looking straight through the lenses of the goggles, while the embedded display provides an informational overlay. VR headsets are less common in AR environments because they do not allow the wearer to see the real world directly; instead, it has to be recreated in video and displayed on the built-in screen, which is otherwise opaque.
    • Automotive HUDs – HUDs, or heads-up displays, are systems that use your car’s windshield as a screen. A device projects an image – speed, directions, etc. – from the dashboard upwards onto the windshield. The driver sees the reflection of this imagery as it bounces off the glass like a mirror.
    • Others — Looking ahead, more futuristic devices like smart contact lenses and systems that can project an image directly onto the retina may become viable.
  • Camera – As the primary sensor required for AR to function, the camera feeds the live video to the processor, which detects key facets of the environment on which the AR data is overlaid. The camera itself does not process any of the digital information; it merely provides the video feed.
  • Other sensors – AR is often designed for motion, so additional sensor types are required for operation. These may include spatial sensors, such as accelerometers and digital compasses, which indicate the direction the camera is facing; GPS sensors, which track the user’s location in the world; microphones, which incorporate audio data into the simulation: and LiDaR, which uses lasers to measure exact distance.
  • Input devices – A user on the move is often not at liberty to type commands into a computer. As such, AR systems have been devised to work with numerous types of input technologies. Foremost is the mobile device touchscreen, providing a natural interaction if a phone or tablet is available. Other options include voice recognition technology, so users can control the system via speech, and gesture recognition systems, which typically translate the motion of the user’s hand into commands.

Several types of software algorithms are needed to enable augmented reality. Broadly, these include:

  • Image registration – Software that takes a photographic representation of one’s surroundings and uses that information to determine various real-world coordinates and objects within it. Image registration maps the real world and determines what is in the foreground vs. what is in the background, where one object ends and another begins, and points of interest as well as additional information.
  • 3D rendering – With the real world mapped and categorized, the next step is overlaying the augmented reality information on top of it. The 3D renderer creates virtual objects and places them into the appropriate location within the live image. The programming language Augmented Reality Markup Language (ARML) is the current standard for setting the location and appearance of a virtual object.
  • Content management – Content management is a back-end technology incorporating a system that maintains a database of virtual objects and 3D models.
  • Interface – Whether it’s a video game or a technical management tool, the interface is the intermediary between the user and the video representation of the augmented reality environment.
  • Development toolkits – A variety of open source and proprietary technologies are used to give programmers a framework for building AR applications on the platform of their choice.

How does augmented reality work on mobile?

If you encounter an AR application today, it will probably be in the form of a mobile phone app: any smartphone owner has access to hundreds of AR applications on iPhone or Android mobile phones without the need for any additional hardware. All the core software capabilities needed to enable AR are built into the operating system.

In a typical use case, the AR user launches an application on his or her mobile phone or tablet. Most AR apps are fairly simple in design. The user aims the mobile phone or device at a point of interest and waits for the application to populate the screen with additional context. This could be anything from walking directions to the identity of stars in the sky to dance steps.

(Read about what 5G means for the future.)

ar interface image phone

Hundreds of AR applications are available on mobile devices

Challenges and What’s Next

What are the challenges for AR/VR?

AR and VR are still in their infancy, and they have a long timeline of development ahead of them before they become true mainstream technologies. Some of the most frequently cited technology and business challenges include:

Technology challenges

  • Limited mobile processing capability – Mobile handsets have limited processing power, but tethering a user to a desktop or server isn’t realistic. Either mobile processing power will have to expand, or the work will have to be offloaded to the cloud.
  • Limited mobile bandwidth – While cloud-based processing offers a compelling potential solution to the mobile processing bottleneck, mobile phone bandwidth is still too slow in most places to offer the necessary real-time video processing. This will likely change as mobile bandwidth improves.
  • Complex development – Designing an AR or VR application is costly and complicated. Development tools will need to become more user-friendly to make these technologies accessible to programmers.

Business challenges

  • VR hardware’s inconvenience – Putting on a virtual reality headset and clearing a room often detracts from the user experience. VR input devices, in the form of modified gaming controllers, can also often be unintuitive, with a steep learning curve.
  • Building a business model – Outside of video gaming, many AR and VR applications remain in early stages of development with unproven viability in the business world.
  • Security and privacy issues – The backlash over the original Google Glass proved that the mainstream remains skeptical about the proliferation of cameras and their privacy implications. How are video feeds secured, and are copies stored somewhere?

Despite these challenges, however, significant progress is being made to expand both business and commercial use cases for AR and VR, and further drive them into the mainstream.

What’s next for AR and VR?

AR and VR have a decidedly bright future, and the years to come will bring many new capabilities and more widespread usage.

Improvements in video quality, processing power, mobile bandwidth, and AR/VR hardware will drive more mainstream acceptance, and falling development costs and complexity will provide more options for creators to explore. Systems that track eye movement and facial expressions will slowly make clunky joysticks and other controllers obsolete.

While video gaming and entertainment will continue to drive this market, AR and VR will also see emerging practical applications. In the world of virtual reality, these include fully virtual surgery, in which surgeons perform their jobs only in a simulated environment and robotic systems do the actual work. In the world of AR, the ability to virtually travel anywhere is made possible by an emerging tech platform called Mirrorworld, which aims to replicate the physical universe on a 1:1 scale.

Education will likely continue to shift to a virtual model on AR and VR platforms both in academia and in the corporate world. And finally, retailers will continue to rely on AR applications to upgrade virtual shopping applications, slowly rendering the need for physical storefronts obsolete.

The Bottom Line: AR and VR are poised for growth

AR and VR are both fairly niche technologies today, but both have impressive futures ahead of them as they mature. With increasing momentum around innovative VR video games and AR navigation aids, consumers are increasingly ready to experiment with future applications of these technologies. In industry, AR especially is finding applications in everything from design to maintenance to healthcare.

Looking ahead, it will be exciting to see what new AR- and VR-driven tools come to fruition.

The Basics: Understanding the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality and 360 degrees and 3D

This article covers all the basics that you need to venture into the world of visual e-commerce. The article also explains aspects like 360-degree video, AR, VR, and 3D product models. These help you understand and clear out the very basics that can form the building blocks of implementing these technologies for your brand. The article also explains the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality and between 360 degree and 3D products.

Table of Contents

We often speak and hear terms in the visual world of technology like 360-degree video, 3D, AR, and VR but do we know exactly what these terms mean? The dream of capturing your customer’s attention using these technological perks is possible to achieve only when one understands what each one of these is.

What is a 360-degree video?

360-degree videos essentially are recordings that include various angles from every direction from which you can see a product. In this case, a camera or multiple cameras are rigged such that it shoots highly immersive video of the product from all directions. This can either be done by physically rotating the camera around the product or by moving the product itself on an appropriately sized turntable. 

This technology is quite commonly seen in the automotive industry, and even in real estate promotions so much so that even platforms like YouTube and Facebook allow easy hosting of such 360-degree videos.

What is 3D product renders?

3D literally means anything that has width, height, and depth. Simply put everything that we see in real life, we see in 3D.  Employing the same approach, 3D product renders or 3D videos have width, height, and depth thus giving them more real-life and a more immersive experience to the viewer.

A popular example of 3D in our day-to-day life is best shown by IKEA. With its app IKEA place, it helps customers to view the products in true to scale 3D images, enabling them to make the right choice while shopping. 

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?


Augmented reality means edited or improved reality. In this, the users see and interact with the real world but some digital modifications are made to it. Simply put, it means that the user enjoys the real world with some key virtual changes that enhance the visual experience. 

IKEA place, again, has set a great example in using AR in e-commerce. It allows users to place real-life-size products in the spot that the users want to place them. Thus allowing them to see the products thoroughly before buying them.

What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Metaverse image

In contrast to augmented reality, virtual reality presents you with a computer-generated world for you to experience. The best virtual reality experience also allows the user to move around and manipulate objects in the virtual world thus enhancing the experience. 

The best example of this is perhaps seen in YouTube videos. These are configured such that they can be experienced in the virtual world using a VR headset. 

The main difference between augmented reality and virtual reality, 360-degree video, 3D

The main difference between 360-degree video, 3D, AR, and VR is in the experience they provide. 360-degree videos allow you to inspect each angle of a product. 3D images and videos allow you to see the product as if in real life. This lets the user inspect every nook and corner of the product. AR and VR, on the other hand, provide a reality-altering experience in the real world on the virtual world respectively.

Understanding virtual reality and augmented reality

A woman sees a prehistoric world of dinosaurs through a virtual reality headset.

We spend a lot of time looking at screens these days. Computers, smartphones, and televisions have all become a big part of our lives; they’re how we get a lot of our news, use social media, watch movies, and much more. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two technologies that are changing the way we use screens, creating new and exciting interactive experiences.

Virtual reality uses a headset to place you in a computer-generated world that you can explore. Augmented reality, on the other hand, is a bit different. Instead of transporting you to a virtual world, it takes digital images and layers them on the real world around you through the use of either a clear visor or smartphone.

With virtual reality, you could explore an underwater environment. With augmented reality, you could see fish swimming through the world around you.

Watch the video below to learn about virtual reality and augmented reality.


Virtual reality

Virtual reality immerses you in a virtual world through the use of a headset with some type of screen displaying a virtual environment. These headsets also use a technology called head tracking, which allows you to look around the environment by physically moving your head. The display will follow whichever direction you move, giving you a 360-degree view of the virtual environment.

Types of VR devices

At the moment, there are two major types of headsets. Both have their pros and cons, which you’ll want to consider if you’re looking to purchase one.

The first type has a screen built in to the headset. These devices connect to a computer and require a pretty powerful system to operate smoothly. They have great graphics and perform well, but they’re also pretty expensive. A few popular examples of these include the Oculus Rift, the Vive, and the PlayStation VR, which connects to the PlayStation 4 game console.

Some of these devices come with handheld controllers that track your hands’ movements as well, providing for a more interactive experience.

A man looks through a virtual reality headset.

The other type of headset houses your phone and uses its screen as the display. These don’t require a computer and run completely off of apps on your smartphone. The graphics and performance levels on these headsets aren’t quite as good as those with a built-in screen, but they do tend to be much cheaper. Some popular examples include Google Cardboard and the Gear VR.

A woman uses a smartphone-based virtual reality headset.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality allows you to see the world around you with digital images layered on top of it. There are currently a couple of AR headsets available, including the Microsoft HoloLens and the Magic Leap. However, they are currently more expensive than VR headsets, and are marketed primarily to businesses.

A man uses a Hololens device at home.

Augmented reality can also be used on devices like smartphones and laptops without the use of a headset. There are a variety of apps that use AR, including some that allow you to translate text using your cameraidentify stars in the sky, and even see how your garden would look with different plants. You may have even previously used AR without realizing it, while playing a game like Pokemon Go or using filters on Snapchat.

A person sees augmented reality through their iPad screen.

Watch the following video to see how augmented reality could be applied in the near future.


Both VR and AR technologies are growing at a pretty rapid pace. Many experts predict that they’ll continue to become more and more popular in the near future. As technology becomes more advanced, it’ll be exciting to see how they’ll be applied to both business and everyday life!

Learn more about this landscape and the requirements for a computing system that can handle the demands of these new, immersive experiences.1

The border between the virtual and real world continues to break down, providing breathtaking experiences that, a short time ago, could only be found in the imagination of sci-fi writers.

Virtual Reality (VR) has been the “next big thing” for several years, but its time has finally come as a way to generate realistic images, sounds, and other sensations that put you smack in the middle of a spectacular imaginary world. Augmented Reality (AR), which adds virtual stuff to your real world environment, is contributing to the buzz, and both technologies should become a big part of our future. With Mixed Reality (MR), you can play a virtual video game, grab your real world water bottle, and smack an imaginary character from the game with the bottle. Imagination and reality have never been so intermingled.

So much is happening so fast that the differences between VR, AR, and MR can seem a little puzzling at first. Each of these spellbinding technologies are accessible to almost everyone, but before you throw down your hard-earned money for the latest head-mounted display, let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need for an amazing VR, AR, or MR experience.

The History and Future of Virtual Reality

We’ve been trying to capture “Virtual Reality” for much longer than just the past five to ten years. There were popular peer-through toys in the 1950s and enclosed flight simulators debuted in the 1960s, but the idea of VR goes back even further.

As early as the 1930s, science fiction writers, inventors, and tinkerers dreamt of an environment where you could escape from reality via art and machines. We were weighing questions about Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality vs. Mixed Reality long before we had the technology to make them possible.

Technology has caught up to fiction, and market researchers predict rapid growth for the VR industry.

VR and AR Meet MR

First things first, let’s define the terminology. Virtual Reality can be used as an umbrella term to describe other technologies similar to, but different from, an actual Virtual Reality experience. But what’s the difference between Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality? Here are some more details:

Virtual Reality

VR is the most widely known of these technologies. It is fully immersive, which tricks your senses into thinking you’re in a different environment or world apart from the real world. Using a head-mounted display (HMD) or headset, you’ll experience a computer-generated world of imagery and sounds in which you can manipulate objects and move around using haptic controllers while tethered to a console or PC.

Augmented Reality

AR overlays digital information on real-world elements. Pokémon GO* is among the best-known examples. Augmented reality keeps the real world central but enhances it with other digital details, layering new strata of perception, and supplementing your reality or environment.

Mixed Reality

MR brings together real world and digital elements. In mixed reality, you interact with and manipulate both physical and virtual items and environments, using next-generation sensing and imaging technologies. Mixed Reality allows you to see and immerse yourself in the world around you even as you interact with a virtual environment using your own hands—all without ever removing your headset. It provides the ability to have one foot (or hand) in the real world, and the other in an imaginary place, breaking down basic concepts between real and imaginary, offering an experience that can change the way you game and work today.

Using Virtual Reality Technologies

From gaming, to movies, to medicine, the uses for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality are expanding.

  • Healthcare—For training, such as for surgical simulations
  • Film and TV—For movies and shows to create unique experiences
  • Virtual travel—For virtual trips to an art museum—or another planet—all from home
  • Professional sports—For training programs like STRIVR to help pro and amateur athletes
  • Gaming—For over 1,000 games already available, from first-person shooters to strategy games to role-playing adventures

What You’ll Need: Headsets

There are many, many VR headsets available, all with varying performance levels and prices. Entry-level gear, such as Google Cardboard*, uses your mobile phone as the screen, whereas PC-operated devices, like the HTC Vive* or Oculus Rift*, are immersive—providing a premium VR environment. Microsoft has their Windows* 10 Mixed Reality platform that uses fully immersive headsets offered by Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung.

Some AR headsets are available on the market today, with more rumored to be coming in the future. The Microsoft Hololens*, Google Glass*, and the Meta 2* headset are great examples.

Every PC-connected HMD will have different system requirements, so if you’re buying a new Virtual Reality headset, make sure you check with the HMD vendor for their recommended and minimum system requirements.

What You’ll Need: Computers

If you are looking for a new computer and you’re interested in VR, you’ll need something that can handle heavy loads. When it comes to high-end desktops or laptops for Virtual Reality (and other advanced tasks like gaming or video editing), the CPU, GPU, and memory are the most critical components.

Without these high-performing components working in sync, you could have a pretty miserable experience. A powerful system will ensure that you’ll have fun as you lean in, stand up, or walk around. VR that lags makes it impossible for the virtual world to respond as you expect, which can lead to more than just disappointment; it increases the risk of motion sickness.

A high-end processor assists in positional tracking and controls how real and immersive your virtual environment will be, so you’ll enjoy a deeper experience in a higher-fidelity environment. For a great VR experience, consider the latest generation Intel Core™ i7 processor.

A discrete graphics processing unit (GPU) is recommended, or in the case of Oculus Rift*, HTC Vive*, and Windows Mixed Reality Ultra*, it is required. The GPU is responsible for rendering the high resolution, immersive images needed for VR. OculusHTC, and Microsoft all have profiler tools that you can download from their websites, and you can use to run on your PC to determine if it meets the minimum requirements for their VR headsets.

Choose Your Experience

New VR and AR technologies and products continue to come to market, making new environments accessible to the masses. Virtual, Augmented, Mixed—the choice for a new reality is up to you. Let your imagination, and your readiness to try new gear, enhance your experience!

Key VR Terms to Know

Use this chart to learn more VR terms and definitions.

TermDescriptionWhy It Matters
Frames per second (FPS)Frequency at which a system can display consecutive images, or framesWithout a high and constant frame rate (greater than 60 FPS), the motion won’t look right, and you could even feel sick
Field of viewThe angle of the observable world that can be seenIf the window of view is too narrow, you could end up making unnatural head rotations
Degrees of Freedom (DoF)The number of directions that an object can move or rotate. The six degrees of freedom are pitch, roll, yaw, left and right, forward and backward, up and downMore DoFs allow you to move more naturally in VR
LatencyThe amount of time it takes a system to react/respond to movements or commandsLatency is critical when it comes to the presence inside Virtual Reality—if the system doesn’t respond instantly, it doesn’t feel real

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality 

For a better understanding, let’s explore the differences between augmented reality vs virtual reality in a tabular format:

BenchmarkAugmented realityVirtual reality
What does it do?Enhances a real-world sceneCreates an immersive virtual environment
Is there a need for a headset device?NoYes
How much is it real, and how much is virtual?25 percent virtual and 75 percent real75 percent virtual and 25 percent real
End-users remain in touch with the real worldYesNo
Does this technology fully immerses the end-user in action?No. It partially immerses the end-user into the action.Yes
How much bandwidth does this technology require?At least 50 MbpsUp to 100 Mbps
Does this technology require special devices, such as glovesNo. Just a smartphone with a cameraYes

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality definition: Augmented reality is a type of technology that enhances a real-world scenario by adding digital elements to a live view, often by using a smartphone’s camera. 

In order to better understand what augmented reality is, let’s go through an example that we all can experience or must have experienced till now.

You can also explore: Top 10 concepts and Technologies in Machine learning

Augmented reality example: 

Open the Flipkart app on your smartphone. In the search bar, search for “sofa sets.” Once the results are displayed, click on one of the sofa sets from the list. Once that product’s page opens, you will see an option stating, “View in your room.” Click on this option, and you might have to wait sometime. Once the product is loaded, it will be visible on your screen with further instructions. You will get a result something like this:

The figure shows an example of augmented reality (In terms of Augmented reality vs Virtual reality).

This is one of the best examples of augmented reality. A game (Pokemon go) was also launched based on augmented reality, which became a huge success. That game is also one of the best examples of AR technology.

Augmented reality technology is more accessible than virtual reality because it can be accessed by anybody who has a smartphone with a camera. A virtual environment is created to coexist with the real environment in augmented reality to provide extra information about the real world.

Applications of augmented reality

There are various applications of augmented reality, and some of those advantages are:

  • Medical industry: Helps students in medical training in order to practice handling expensive equipment, such as MRI scanners
  • Interior design industry: Allows you to visualize the final product even while in construction. And this concept increases or generates the use of augmented reality in the interior design industry
  • Education: Allows students to learn new concepts easily as the concepts become when explained or taught using augmented reality.
  • Mechanical sector: Helps the technician to quickly diagnose the fault and fix it quickly.
  • Tourism industry: Allows tourists to inspect the virtual location of the place they want to travel. This industry is booming rapidly with the use of augmented reality technology.

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality definition: Virtual reality is a technology that creates an immersive virtual environment and requires a headset device in order to function properly.

Virtual reality is a bit same at the ground level as augmented reality. The virtual reality technology takes the components to the next level by producing an entirely computer-generated simulation of an alternate world. This technology can create any scene or place that a person can imagine using various equipment, such as sensors, computers, gloves, etc.

You can also explore: Virtual reality courses

The working of virtual reality is simple. In this technology, the user needs to put a virtual reality headset screen in front of their eyes in order to eliminate any connection with the real world. Once it is done, the user needs to adjust their eyes based on the individual movement of the eye, it’s positioning, and the two lenses placed between the screen to dive into a virtual environment.

An excellent example of virtual reality technology can be seen in a PS4 gaming device, virtual reality headsets for viewing movies for a better experience, and Metaverse.

You can also explore: Metaverse: The Next Revolution of Virtual Reality

Applications of virtual reality

There are various applications of virtual reality, and some of those applications are:

  • Gaming industry: Allows you to create and improve a fictitious reality for the gaming world.
  • Sports industry: In many sports, it serves as a digital training device to assess a player’s performance or analyze their techniques.
  • Medical industry: Provides a safe environment for patients to interact with things they are afraid of and allows medical students to practice procedures and diagnoses.

The applications of augmented reality and virtual reality are almost the same. It’s just that the percentage of virtual and reality, differs. The dive gets bigger and deeper when we use virtual reality.

Key differences between augmented reality vs virtual reality

Some of the key differences between augmented reality vs virtual reality are:

  • Augmented reality enhances a real-world scene, whereas virtual reality creates an immersive virtual environment
  • Augmented reality is 25 percent virtual and 75 percent real, whereas virtual reality is 75 percent virtual and 25 percent real.
  • Virtual reality requires a headset device, but it’s not the case with augmented reality technology.
  • Augmented reality partially immerses the end user in action, whereas virtual reality fully immerses the end user in action.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are evolving more and more appropriately nowadays. Both technologies keep so much in standard while also existing very different. So, in this article, we will try to describe the difference between AR and VR.

AR and VR are technologies best defined as immersive 3-D experiences employing advanced devices. Despite using the same technology and hardware, both are quite diverse in terms of experiences and use points.

The difference between VR and AR reaches down to virtual and real-world environments. AR utilizes a real-world setting while VR is an entirely virtual world. VR often requires a headset appliance, but AR can be accessed even with a smartphone. AR can even incorporate virtual and real-world, while VR is just limited to a fictional fact.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented Reality (AR) is a digitally improved version of reality where users can interact with computer interfaces similar to a smartphone or an app. It incorporates both the real and virtual elements to give a real-time interactive experience between both worlds.

Suppose a computer UI screen appears in front of your eyes, working the same way as your smartphone. This kind of relation between the real and virtual world is the importance of AR. The most famous instances would be the Snapchat AR filters and Pokémon GO.

What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Virtual Reality is a computer-generated background that people can share through sensory stimulation, i.e., visual and auditory, making the surroundings immersive and real. In VR, you can experience a dream world or travel the world from the convenience of your home.

VR technology needs a lot of elements to function. For example, you’ll require a VR Headset, controllers to interact with the environment, and a device that can take the processing power required to run VR applications.

Virtual Reality comes from the importance of “virtual” and “reality.” In layman’s terms, it involves experiencing things that only exist in a computer simulation. Also, you could call it an illusion if you liked.

When virtual reality and augmented reality were first introduced?

While primitive virtual reality techniques got their beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, the ideas of VR and AR started to achieve momentum in military applications during the early 1980s. Motion graphics such as Tron, The Matrix, and Minority Report all offered futuristic riffs on how these technologies would evolve in the years to arrive.

The first mainstream attempt at emitting a VR headset was the Sega VR in 1993, an add-on to the Sega Genesis gaming system. While it never pushed it to market, it did stoke customer appeal in the technology. It would not be until the Oculus Rift in 2010 that a VR headset would be victorious with a customer audience — though today these machines remain costly and largely of niche interest, gaming-focused users.

Augmented reality splintered from the virtual reality around 1990, and was carried to the public’s attention in 1998 when TV broadcasters started overlaying a yellow line on the football field to sufficiently show the distance to a first down. Over the next era, several apps around AR technology were designed for both military use (such as in fighter jet cockpits) and user, when print magazines and packaged goods started embedding QR codes that could be scanned with a customer cell phone, making the product “come alive” with a short 3D video.

In 2014, Google moved out of Google Glass, to provide everyone with a head-mounted display AR device. The AR headset, which was controlled through voice and touch gestures, was met with skepticism and criticism, attributed to the new reality that people were recording video 24/7 in public. Privacy unexpectedly became a major talking point in customer AR. Google ultimately suspended the project and relaunched it a few years later with business users in mind.

How do AR works?

AR uses computer vision, mapping as well as depth tracking to present appropriate content to the user. This functionality allows cameras to gather, send, and process information to show digital content appropriate to what any user is looking at.

In Augmented reality, the user’s physical environment is increased with contextually relevant digital content in real-time. You can experience (AR) augmented reality with a smartphone or with certain hardware.

How do VR work?

The focus of virtual reality is on affecting the vision. The user requires to put a VR headset screen in front of his/her eyes. Therefore, stopping any relations with the real world. In VR, two lenses are fixed between the screens. The user requires to adjust eyes based on the individual action of the eye and its positioning. The graphical illustrations on the screen can be rendered by using an HDMI cable connected to a PC or mobile phone.

Uses speakers, goggles, and sometimes handheld wearables to simulate a real-world experience. In virtual reality, you can also engage visual, haptic (touch) stimulation, and auditory, so the constructed reality is immersive.

The distinction between Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Here are the most important distinctions between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR):

Augmented Reality (AR)
  • • The method augments the real-world scene
  • • In AR Users consistently have a sense of existence in the real world
  • • AR is 25% virtual and 75% real
  • • This technology partly engages the user in the action
  • • AR needs upwards of 100 Mbps bandwidth
  • • No AR headset is required.
  • • With AR, end-users are even in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects nearer to them.
  • • It is used to enhance both virtual and real worlds.
Virtual Reality (VR)
  • • The fully immersive virtual environment
  • • In VR, visual senses are under the command of the system
  • • VR is 75% virtual and 25% real
  • • This technology completely immerses the user into the action
  • • VR needs at least a 50 Mbps connection
  • • Some VR headset device is required.
  • • By using VR technology, the VR user is disconnected from the real world and immerses himself in a completely fictional world.
  • • It is used to improve fictional reality for the gaming world.
Advantages of Augmented Reality (AR)

Here are the pros/benefits of Augmented Reality:

  • • Presents individualized learning
  • • Fostering the learning method
  • • A vast variety of areas
  • • Offers creation and continuous advancement
  • • Improve accuracy
  • • Augmented reality can be used to improve user knowledge and data.
  • • People can share experiences over long distances.
  • • Helps developers to create games that offer a “real” experience to the user.
Advantages of Virtual Reality (VR)

Here are the pros/benefits of Virtual Reality:

  • • Immersive learning
  • • Make an interactive environment
  • • Improve work capabilities
  • • Deliver convenience
  • • One of the most important benefits of VR is that it helps you to make a realistic world so that the user can explore the world.
  • • Virtual reality in the teaching field makes education easy and comfortable
  • • Virtual reality authorizes users to test with an artificial environment.
Disadvantages of Augmented Reality

Here are the cons/drawbacks of Augmented Reality:

  • • It is costly to execute and develop AR technology-based projects and to keep them.
  • • The absence of privacy is a major drawback of AR.
  • • The low-performance level of AR devices is a major drawback that can occur during the testing stage.
  • • Augmented reality can generate mental health problems.
  • • Lack of protection may affect the overall augmented reality principle.
  • • Extreme engagement with AR technology can guide major healthcare problems such as eye issues and obesity etc.
Disadvantages of Virtual Reality

Here are the cons/drawbacks of Virtual Reality:

  • • VR is evolving much more familiar, but programmers will never be able to interact with virtual environments.
  • • Escapism is unremarkable among those that use VR environments, and people begin living in the virtual world instead of dealing with real-world problems.
  • • Training with a virtual reality environment never has the same outcome as training and working in the real world. This means if somebody has done well with simulated tasks in a VR environment, there is still no guarantee that a person doing well in the real world.
Applications of Augmented Reality (AR)

Here are the major applications of AR technology:

  • • AR apps are being created that embed text, images, videos, etc.
  • • The printing and advertisement industries are using AR technology apps to display digital content on top of real-world magazines.
  • • AR technology authorizes you the evolution of translation apps that allows you to interpret the text in other languages for you.
  • • With the help of the Unity 3d Engine tool, AR is being used to create real-time 3D Games.
Applications of Virtual Reality (VR)

Here are the major applications of VR:

  • • VR technology is used to create and improve a fictional reality for the gaming world.
  • • VR can use by the military for flight simulations, battlefield simulations, etc.
  • • VR is employed as a digital training machine in many sports to help to calculate a sports person’s performance and examine their techniques.
  • • It is also becoming a primary way of treating post-traumatic stress.
  • • Using VR devices such as Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, users can be transported into real-world and imaginary environments like squawking penguin colonies or even the back of a dragon.
  • • VR technology offers a safe environment for patients to come into contact with things they fear.
  • • Medical students use VR to practice techniques
  • • Virtual patients are utilized to help students to acquire skills that can later be applied in the real world.

How do AR and VR work together?

It will be incorrect to express that Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are intended to work separately. They mostly agreed to develop an enhanced engaging experience when these technologies are merged to transport the user to the fictional world by giving a new measurement of the interaction between the real and virtual world.

Alif Vasaya provides expertise in business strategy, community growth hacking, content production, content strategy, digital ads through acquisitions, raising capital, monetizing the Metaverse, NFT affiliate marketing, consulting, and marketing advising for start-up companies.Highly skilled and results-oriented professional with solid academic preparation holding a bachelor's degree in arts and extensive experience in digital marketing, content production, business transformation, and human resource. Proven ability to assess and manage complex obstacles; viewed as a decisive troubleshooter. Successful in intense and demanding environments, providing strong team leadership and structure with a track record of motivating and developing soldiers.


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