7 Important Differences Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

by Itika Singhal

Extended Reality (XR) refers to immersive technologies which offers unique experiences by adding digital elements to your reality. The difference between various types of XR, be it AR, VR or MR lie in how much of reality and how much of digital elements come together to form an experience.

In this article we look at the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality classifying them under several important heads. Many people ask that should they choose AR over VR ? Well, you cannot really choose one over another, each of these immersive technologies have their own applications, importance and shortcomings.

  1. Viewing mode: Augmented reality experience can be viewed via a mobile device or AR glasses / headset. The AR glasses or headset are expected to be handsfree and non obstructive to your actual surroundings. Virtual reality experience is viewed through a headset which is powered by a smart phone or a high end PC. A VR headset is obtrusive as it blocks out your real surroundings and you are only able to view the simulated world.
  2. Display quality: In Augmented reality displays are constantly being worked upon and having powerful display are an added advantage. In virtual reality having a powerful display is a must to be closer to the realism of being in a simulated yet different reality altogether.
  3. Latency: Latency display are not a troublesome factor when in comes to augmented reality in its present day development and usage. AR through a smartphone works quite well. When it comes to virtual reality there has to be low latency displays so that no video frame is dropped while in an immersive virtual reality experience in order to maintain realism.
  4. Computing dimension: Augmented reality brings computing to your own real surroundings. Digital objects get augmented in your reality and you are able to interact with them. Virtual reality separates you from your actual surroundings and take you into a different computing or a simulated world.
  5. Kinesthesia: In augmented reality you interact with digital objects in your own world and move and react how would would in your day to day interactions. In virtual reality feeling of being in a different environment is there. How your body moves and how your virtual VR avatar moves and how your mind perceives your bodily reactions and visual perceptions are quite different.
  6. Application areas: Both the technologies can be applied to any imaginable industry and aspect of life and reap advantages they have to offer. The only distinction is that Augmented reality can be used for day to day applications while virtual reality is only applicable in simulated worlds. 
  7. Duration for usage: Augmented reality can be used for prolonged hours as it does not affect your health except that you might want to give your eyes some rest and take a break as you would from using a smart phone or a laptop. However in virtual reality health experts define time limit of 15 minutes at a go to avoid dizziness and side effects like VR legs. 

Examples: Augmented reality can be helpful to have guided city tours where you can get audio, text or video information about a certain tourist spot once your AR device scans it and you can view the information in your own real surroundings without having to google them or read about them in a printed guide. Another example of AR is Ikea place app for seeing how furniture would look in your house prior to purchasing it.

One of the applications of a virtual reality which will also help you understand the kinaesthesia aspect is zombie shooting game where you can move in the virtual streets and shoot zombies while in actual you are really confined to a small space in your house. With help of VR applications you can learn how to drive from comfort of your home in a VR simulator.

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