Augmented and virtual reality are among the most talked-about technologies, but they’re not the same. We’ll discuss the difference between augmented and virtual reality and help you decide which is best for your needs.
But first, a little history of these innovations.
- Augmented and virtual reality have a long development history, stretching back to the 1960s.
- Augmented reality (AR) technology overlays digital content onto the real world. This content can be anything from images, text, animation, or video.
- Virtual reality (VR) technology immerses users into a completely virtual world. Users typically experience VR through a headset, allowing people to explore and interact with simulated scenes, objects and environments.
The history behind these innovations
Augmented and virtual reality have a long development history, stretching back to the 1960s. In 1962, Morton Heilig created the first “Sensorama” simulator, which included 3D images, stereo sound, smell-o-vision, and even air blasts that simulated wind in the face. In 1968 Ivan Sutherland developed the first head-mounted display (HMD) device, known as the “Sword of Damocles.” The bulky device was connected to a computer and tracked the user’s head movements.
In the 1990s, virtual reality technology moved out of research labs and into consumer products. Sega invented a VR headset in 1991, though never released. Then, in 1995 Nintendo released the Virtual Boy, an HMD console. Nintendo quickly discontinued the console because it was uncomfortable and provided a low-quality gaming experience. By the 2000s, virtual reality technology had advanced significantly, with companies such as Oculus and HTC creating headsets that allowed for more realistic simulations of environments.
At around the same time, augmented reality (AR) was gaining traction. In the 1990s, Louis Rosenberg filed a patent for AR, and the technology has been advancing ever since. A significant milestone in the development of AR was the release of Google’s Project Glass in 2013, allowing users to access information such as weather forecasts and emails through a pair of glasses.
OK, so what are augmented reality and virtual reality?
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality (AR) technology overlays digital content onto the real world. This content can be anything from images, text, animation, or video.
AR exists in various industries, such as gaming, education, and marketing. It’s also popular with mobile apps like Snapchat and Pokémon Go.
AR technology is quickly becoming essential to many brands’ marketing strategies. Brands leverage AR to help customers experience their products firsthand, allowing them to see how the product might look in their homes or office before making a purchase. Customers can now virtually “try on” clothes and accessories, pick out furniture for their living room, or sample makeup shades without leaving their homes. Not only does this provide customers with a convenient way to shop, but it also significantly reduces the number of product returns retailers must process.
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality (VR) technology immerses users into a completely virtual world. Users typically experience VR through a headset, allowing people to explore and interact with simulated scenes, objects and environments.
VR is beneficial for gaming, training, education, and entertainment purposes.
Teachers can create more engaging lessons for students by immersing them in a virtual and interactive environment. For example, teachers can use virtual reality for dissection tutorials and anatomy lessons. Providing students with a 3D environment to explore allows them to gain a deeper understanding of the material they are learning. Additionally, virtual reality can enhance language learning by enabling students to converse with virtual characters in different scenarios.
Three differences between augmented and virtual reality
After exploring augmented and virtual reality, we can see three fundamental differences between the two:
- Immersion: AR overlays digital content onto the real world, while VR immerses users into a completely virtual world.
- Interaction: With AR, users can interact with digital content in the real world. With VR, users are fully immersed in a 3D environment and can interact with objects within that environment.
- Applications: AR is typically for gaming, education, and marketing purposes, while VR is for gaming, training, education, and entertainment.
Which one is right for you as a business owner?
Augmented reality (AR) can benefit businesses of all sizes and industries. AR can help improve customer experiences, increase employee productivity, and reduce costs. Some examples of when a company might use augmented reality include:
- Retail stores: Augmented reality can allow customers to virtually try on clothing or products, providing a more immersive experience.
- Manufacturing: AR can streamline the production process by displaying detailed instructions directly on the product, helping workers better understand how to build and assemble items faster and with fewer mistakes.
- Real estate: Augmented reality can help potential buyers visualize what a property will look like after renovations, giving them a better understanding of how to use the space, which may lead to more sales.
Virtual reality is a technology that any industry can leverage. Here’s how some are making use of this technology:
- Education: Virtual reality can help students understand geography, biology or physics concepts better. It is also being used for language learning and to provide virtual tours of places worldwide.
- Healthcare: Doctors can use virtual reality to simulate medical procedures or practice complicated surgeries. VR can help with patient rehabilitation and training medical students.
- Manufacturing: Virtual reality creates virtual representations of factories and workspaces, allowing managers to design more efficient workplaces and supply chains.
- Entertainment: Virtual reality plays a major role in the gaming and entertainment industries. It has enabled new types of immersive gaming experiences and provided movie theaters with a way to deliver an even more engaging experience.
- Tourism: Travel companies use VR to create virtual tours of popular destinations, allowing customers to explore places without visiting them physically.
Which should you choose as an individual?
Ultimately, the choice between augmented and virtual reality depends on your individual needs, and it doesn’t have to be a one-or-the-other decision. If you’re looking for a technology that allows you to interact with digital content in the real world, like when you’re doing online shopping, then AR is the way to go. On the other hand, if you want an immersive experience that allows you to explore and interact with virtual worlds, like when you’re playing a game, then VR is the choice for you.
Did you enjoy learning the difference between augmented and virtual reality?
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