Virtual Reality Vs Augmented Reality: What are the differences?

We often confuse Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, and although they are related, they are not the same. Both have captured the interest of various sectors, and to choose which one to use, it is essential to understand their differences and have clear specific objectives for each industry.
In the last decade, we have witnessed astonishing advancements in the field of technology. Two terms that have gained a lot of popularity are Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Both technologies have revolutionized the way we experience the digital and physical world, taking us to a whole new level of interaction and immersion. At Perspektiva 360, we encounter clients on a daily basis asking for development of augmented reality applications, when, in fact, some of them are referring to virtual reality applications, or vice versa. We understand that these concepts are often confused, and due to their close relationship, it is a common occurrence. To get us started, please take a look at this video from the national science and technology program of Costa Rica, which will provide you with a simple and quick introduction to the history of these two concepts.  


What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Let’s begin by stating that Virtual Reality is a 3D environment of scenes or objects that try their best to appear real. Most commonly, it involves generating a computer-based environment that creates the sensation of being immersed in it, with objects or scenes that look real but are computer-generated. At Perspektiva 360, we achieve this in some of our products for architecture. It’s worth mentioning that this technology is highly specific and has been used in museums and by construction and tourism companies to take potential buyers directly to places they want to explore and experience. According to Statista, the global Virtual Reality market is estimated to continue growing and surpass $30 billion by 2025, demonstrating the increasing adoption and interest in this technology.  


How does Virtual Reality work?

Virtual Reality is based on the synchronization between hardware and software. Virtual Reality headsets, also known as Head-Mounted Displays (HMD), are equipped with screens that display computer-generated 3D images. These images are adjusted in real-time based on the user’s head and body movements, creating the illusion of being immersed in the virtual environment. In addition to HMDs, Virtual Reality can involve the use of motion controllers and sensors that track the user’s movements, allowing them to interact with the virtual world and explore it at their own pace.   Virtual Reality glasses and controls  

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

In contrast, Augmented Reality is something we use in our daily lives, and it allows a user to visualize part of the real world through a technological device with added graphical information. According to Statista, it is expected that by 2023, the number of mobile Augmented Reality users worldwide will reach 1.7 billion, highlighting the rapid growth and adoption of this technology across various sectors.   Augmented reality in architecture   A clear example of Augmented Reality is seen in certain video games like Pokémon Go, Jurassic World Alive, Orna, and the filters used in Instagram and Snapchat. In this way, tangible physical elements, such as our mobile phones, are combined with virtual elements, creating an “augmented reality” instantly. Essentially, it involves using the camera or some other sensor on your device to project relevant digital information onto the content. Another example is the use of applications that allow you to take photos of iconic destinations with added elements to make them more fun, such as flying cars, spaceships, or characters, while pointing the camera at the tourist location.  

How does Augmented Reality work?

Through the camera of a device, Augmented Reality recognizes and tracks the physical environment surrounding the user. Then, the software processes the information and overlays virtual elements coherently onto the scene captured by the camera. In this way, users can see and manipulate digital objects as if they were present in the real world.   Use of Augmented Reality for education  

Virtual Reality VS Augmented Reality: How do they differ?

Although both technologies offer immersive experiences, there are significant differences between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
  • Immersive Environment VS Integration with the Real World: Virtual Reality completely immerses the user in a separate virtual world from the physical reality, whereas Augmented Reality adds virtual elements to the real world surrounding the user.
  • Interaction with the Environment: In Virtual Reality, the user can interact with the virtual environment and explore it fully. In Augmented Reality, virtual elements are integrated with real-world objects, allowing for more limited interaction.
  • Devices: Virtual Reality typically requires specific devices such as headsets or goggles, while Augmented Reality can be experienced through common devices like smartphones or tablets.
  AR VS RV   However, even though we have mentioned that these technologies are different from each other, it could also be said that they are complementary at times. Both technologies can accompany or easily adapt to each other, depending on the needs of your project  

In which industries do Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality show the greatest potential?

Both technologies have become areas of interest for various sectors; however, it’s essential to consider that the choice between these technologies largely depends on the application and specific goals of each industry:
  • Healthcare and Medicine: Virtual Reality is used for treating phobias, surgical training, rehabilitation therapy, and remote healthcare. Augmented Reality enhances surgical precision and aids doctors in diagnosis and treatment.
  • Tourism: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have transformed the tourism industry, offering travelers the opportunity to explore destinations and attractions before physically visiting them. This improves travel planning and provides tourists with a more enriching experience.
  • Architecture and Real Estate: Both technologies are used in visualizing architectural designs and construction projects, enabling clients to experience spaces before they are built.

  • Education and Professional Training: Both technologies have transformed the way education and professional training are delivered, improving information retention and understanding of complex concepts.
  • Marketing: Both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality offer innovative opportunities for marketing and advertising. Brands can create, for example, immersive brand activations for customers, allowing them to interact with products and services in a unique and engaging way.
  Brand activations with AR and VR   In conclusion, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are exciting technologies that have revolutionized the way we experience the digital and physical world. Each one has its own applications and unique benefits, and their adoption continues to grow across various industries. With ongoing technological advancements, these technologies will continue to evolve and provide increasingly amazing experiences, allowing us to explore and learn in ways never before imagined. Now that this information is clearer, you can better utilize the virtual tools that the world offers to millions of digital explorers. If you want to learn more examples or how these technologies can support your marketing, sales, and innovation processes, don’t hesitate to contact us at the email address info@perspektiva360.com.

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