Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have made a big impact on the tech industry in the past few years. These features have been integrated into more and more devices, helping to stretch the boundaries of gaming, smartphones, tablets, and what technology can do for us. VR and AR are two different technologies capable of different features that offer separate experiences. They are definitely similar, but recognizing the differences can help to set your expectations before buying a product that uses VR vs. AR.

What Is the Main Difference Between VR and AR?

Think of AR as real life with a little extra, or in other words, a little augmentation. AR usually relies on a live video feed or real-world images and adds a digital element. Some games and apps have had huge success with incorporating AR. For example, the wildly popular mobile game Pokemon Go allows users to “catch” creatures in AR using their phone camera. The game took the concept of finding rare monsters in the world around you and made it one step closer to reality by showing those creatures through a live lens in real-time.

Other examples of AR include filters used in apps like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram. These filters can swap faces around, add cool lighting and effects to a portrait, or transport your face into a cartoon sequence. The effect is still a novelty, but these AR tools have earned tons of fans who use these apps just for the fun filters.

VR is a far more immersive technology. When you use VR, goggles shut out your view of the outside world in order to plunge you into a virtual world where you can interact with digital objects and meet up with other users in a digital space. At the moment, you need to use a headset to make the VR experience possible, though you might find these goggles in a lot of settings, like arcades, theme parks, movie theaters, or art exhibitions.

You’ll find AR used most often in smartphone apps. It gets integrated into everything from games to photo filters to marketing campaigns. But for a totally immersive experience of gaming, training, or travel, you’ll want to get your hands on a VR headset

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