What is the Difference Between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

What is the Difference Between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

August 1, 2018 12 By Marvin

What a world we live in, when I was a child all I wanted was a touchscreen device like I saw in the movies. My kids will grow up in a world where touchscreens are pretty much everywhere and people interact via Virtual Reality. They will go to live sporting events, concerts and movie theaters all from the comfort of their homes.

When they step back into reality and go to school or work and use Augmented Reality, they will be able to use phones or tablets to see what an online item looks like in real time in the room they are in, have a look at what a new car will look like in their driveway and be able to capture Pokemon roaming around their backyards.

Pretty full on.

Moving forward VR and AR will be more readily available and it will be very important to know what is the difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. No doubt it will be everywhere in 10-15 years time, so there is no better time than now to get a quick crash course in the difference between the two and the different uses for them.

Virtual Reality

I wouldn’t say VR has stepped into the mainstream consumer market just yet, but it’s definitely on the rise thanks to the likes of the HTC Vive, Oculas Rift, Playstation VR and Google Daydream. Google defines Virtual Reality as, “the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.”


All the devices I mentioned have a similar objective, take the user and immerse them in another world/reality that they can then interact with and occupy. The current state of VR allows the user to put on a headset that houses lenses, high definition displays, and various sensors. When you move your head you are able to look 360 degrees in these virtual worlds. To move around in VR you have controls in your hands that allow this and allow interaction with objects in the environment.

Now don’t get me wrong, current state VR is cool, but it’s no Ready Player One. You can very clearly tell you are in an artificial environment and the way we currently interact with the environment is very limited. In the present day, we are limited by technology and current graphics horsepower.

There are a number of uses for current Virtual Reality that are very beneficial. Using VR in the classroom opens up another level of interaction and new methods of learning and testing. Imagine being able to relive powerful moments in history, life-size models of famous buildings, be in an ER while a surgery is being done or being able to go on global excursions without leaving the classroom.

Moving forward, there are a number of companies out there looking to make quantum leaps with VR technology. Companies like Teslasuit creating wearable haptic feedback suits and Infinadeck creating a 360-degree treadmill like surface to allow you to move around an environment without leaving your room.

No doubt Virtual Reality will be at the level of Sci-Fi movies sooner or later, but the current state is very much grounded in actual reality for the time being

Augmented Reality

In July 2016 something happened that brought Augmented Reality to the forefront of everyone’s news feed, Pokemon GO was released. Almost overnight everyone turned into Pokemon trainers looking to “Catch Em All” all thanks to AR. Google defines Augmented Reality as,“a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.”


You can access Augmented Reality via a few pieces of expensive hardware like the Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass and Magic Leap Lightwear, or via software using something you most likely already own, your Smart Phone. I personally don’t think anything other than your phone is needed for AR in today’s market, the expensive devices mentioned before are either first versions or only viable if you are looking to be on the bleeding edge of this technology.

All you need to be able to experience Augmented Reality right now is a smartphone with a high-resolution screen and good rear-facing camera. AR software uses the camera and sensors of your phone to insert digital graphics into your current environment that can be viewed through your phone’s screen. You can experience this right now, give it a try, download Pokemon Go (iOS, Android) SketchAR (iOS, Android), Ink Hunter (iOS, Android) or something your probably already have and use daily, Snapchat and it’s filters that add features to your face.

Augmented Reality is more mainstream currently mainly due to the success of Pokemon GO and it’s ability to create hordes of Pokemon trainers roaming through your neighborhood. Due to AR being more accessible it’s definitely the cheaper alternative to VR for the everyday person. You can still complete similar learning activities to VR, but obviously in a less immersive fashion.

AR may not be as exciting as VR but it definitely brings a level of excitement and fun to learning activities and leisure activities.


So, what is the difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality? I think quite obviously the key difference between the two is the immersive ability of VR, it’s expensive price point and it’s projected evolution over the coming years. AR is by far the more accessible and cheaper to get involved with but I struggle to see how much further this technology can evolve.

Both AR and VR have their pros and cons, I’m personally more excited about VR and I’m so ready to live in a world like the one in Ready Player One or Tron. It doesn’t matter which one resonates with you more, if you are into tech, both are a lot of fun to play with and experience.

Which do you prefer? Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality? Comment below and let me know