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Difference between AR and VR

As we speak about different “types” of reality, we need to make a clear difference between augmented and virtual one. Both AR and VR are about modifying the way we see the world around us. But, they do it in a different way.
The main difference between virtual reality and augmented reality is that virtual reality creates a totally new space in which the user is immersed, while augmented reality adds some artificial objects to the real world.

Virtual reality

What VR really does is that it actually replaces the real world with a totally artificial space. And, depending on the complexity of the VR application and the soft- and hardware used in its creation, there may be different ways you interact with the virtual space.

VR use cases

When we speak about VR, the first thing that comes to mind is probably – games. Finding yourself inside the game and actually “living” through the gameplay is what attracts users to VR-based games. But there are also other areas that can be combined with VR:
1. Education. With its ability to create immersive spaces, VR becomes a valuable educational tool, where you get a realistic “hands-on” experience.
2. Real estate. With virtual tours, real estate companies can greatly expand their user base and spend less time and effort to show their properties to potential buyers.
3. Training. By immersing future e.g. surgeons into realistic environments of an emergency room, the training facilities will, on the one hand, allow their students to “learn by doing” and, on the other hand, to save costs as there is no need to recreate expensive training sites and equipment.

Augmented reality

With augmented reality, you do not find yourself in a different world. Your world remains the same. But, the AR adds something that has not been there. Usually, you watch the world through the camera of your smartphone or tablet, and the AR application paints something on top of it.

AR use cases
The applications of augmented reality are multiple and related to the AR type used in each case:
1. Virtual try-on. For e-commerce applications, implementing a virtual try-on can help their sales tremendously.
2. Virtual stores. Another industry that uses AR heavily is home decor and furniture.
3. Maps. By overlaying images on maps, you can achieve multiple purposes – showing driving directions, putting names to tourist attractions, adding markers to cafes, hotels, shops, etc.

All in all, we can conclude that virtual reality and augmented reality are very different both in their development and in their applications.

While both technologies create artificial images, their goals are different. VR is aimed at transferring the user to a new world leaving the real world behind.
On the contrary, AR is based on the real world and actively uses it. This major difference defines their usage and the purposes they can serve.
The technology evolution never stands still, and the AR and VR belong to the most rapidly developing areas of computer science.