The Differences Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

The Differences Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Understanding the Differences Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

The topic of augmented reality and virtual reality is a hot topic of discussion nowadays. These two technologies are an exciting prospect and are under the eyes of big tech companies. They are pouring billions of dollars into research and development, and we have already seen some big developments and real-world applications. Before we dive deep into the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality, let us learn about their basics.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality refers to the concept of integrating digital elements into real environments. Devices like Microsoft HoloLens and smart glasses let you see digital images projected in front of you in a real environment. Unlike virtual reality, you do not immerse yourself in a completely digital environment. Similarly, you can move freely whenever you are interacting with digital objects. For example, Pokemon Go, which became an instant hit, could use your phone’s camera to look over your environment and project a Pokemon on your screen. Likewise, Microsoft HoloLens can pick out information about a coffee shop from Maps and project it in front of you while standing in front of the shop.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a different phenomenon. When you put on a VR headset, you immerse into a completely new, digital environment. For example, in VR games, you will most likely play in a first-person view of the game character interacting with the surrounding with your body. Since most of these headsets are totally opaque, you will not have any sense of your real surroundings. This is why you cannot move freely while wearing a VR headset. The HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Playstation VR, and Google Daydream are some of the most popular VR headsets in the world.The Differences Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Brief History

The history of augmented reality and virtual reality dates back to the nineteenth century when Charles Wheatstone invented the stereoscope. This device could project a 3D image that could be seen by the human eye. Likewise, a VR head-mounted display or an HMD was created in 1968. Today, these technologies have found their way out of the labs into common customer applications. Some of the reasons are:

  • The overall development of digital computation technology based on the rapid advancement in the microprocessor fabrication process.
  • Sensors and processors are getting smaller while simultaneously getting more powerful. This enables them to be embedded in compact-sized devices like head mounts and glasses.
  • The rapid development of the open-source software ecosystem allowed millions of developers to work for the common good.
  • Availability of many frameworks and applications that make the development of AR and VR apps quick and convenient.

Differences Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Now that we have learned the basics of augmented reality and virtual reality let us understand their differences in working, applications, advantages, and disadvantages.


One of the major differences between augmented reality and virtual reality is in their working. Augmented reality works based on advanced algorithms of computer vision, mapping, and depth tracking. Likewise, it projects digital images and 3D objects into your real surroundings, making them look like a part of the real world. The AR device must process the appropriate location before projecting digital elements. For example, when you are trying to assess how a piece of furniture looks in your room, your camera must face an empty floor inside a room. The AR system must be able to process new frames fast enough so that the experience is not discontinuous. Modern mobile and desktop devices have decent enough processing power to support this feature.

On the other hand, virtual reality aims to provide a realistic and completely immersive digital experience. The VR headset sets up two screens, one for each eye, which prevents any real-world interaction. The automatically focusing lens adjust themselves based on eye movement and positioning. Likewise, high-end headsets like the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR contains external cameras and head-tracking sensors. Most importantly, the device must be able to provide a consistent frame rate of about 60 fps and a wide-angle of about 100 degrees. Any sort of latency which is the delay between user interaction and screen output, can cause dizziness in the user.


Application Areas of AR

One of the key differences between augmented reality and virtual reality lies in their applications. Augmented reality can be used in the following industries:

Education: AR-powered applications are finding applications in multiple areas of education. Most common examples include medical education, where learners can view a detailed description of the human body. Similarly, it is also being used in the early education of children so that they can develop a better sense of understanding from better visualizations.

Retail: One of the successful implementations of AR is in retail. People are trying and testing hundreds of products within a few minutes. This is most common in interior designs and furniture where people can see how furniture and paints look in their rooms. Furthermore, fashion companies are bringing virtual try on for sneakers, glasses, and clothes which gives customers a wide range of choices for testing and trying. This is also becoming a way for companies to stand out from their competitors.

Tourism: AR-powered applications have greatly influenced the tourism industry. People can see relevant information about different tourism spots with their own eyes and with minimal effort. Travel companies are rushing to develop the best products and services in this space to stand out from the competition.

Gaming: AR games have been quite successful in implementation. Pokemon Go saw a worldwide craze that was not expected even by their developers. This means there is great potential for the gaming industry to give something that is totally different from what we have until now.The Differences Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Application Areas of VR

On the other hand, VR is also finding its use in similar fields but for different applications.

Military: VR is being used in multiple entities of the military to simulate a wide range of situations. This includes combat operations, search and rescue, medical operations, and flight operations. Similarly, they are also being used in simulators to train the new generation of pilots. Furthermore, Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) helps traumatized soldiers to adjust and relax in normal life situations.

Films: VR movies are a sensation nowadays because it has the ability to put anyone inside the film settings. This is a never-before-seen experience that has the potential to revolutionize the industry.

Education: With VR-assisted learning, students can experience classroom concepts in front of their eyes. This can be a tour of the planet Pluto or the rainforests of Amazon. Similarly, it is helping children with special needs to adjust to social life situations.

Gaming: Tech companies are spending billions on the development of VR gaming hardware and software. Even though the tech is too costly to be common now, it is sure to make giant leaps in the future.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Finally, we differentiate between augmented reality and virtual reality based on their merits and demerits.

Advantages of AR

  • Enhanced learning experience
  • Gain relevant information with very little hand interaction
  • Wide range of use cases in multiple industries
  • Point of difference for marketers and companies
  • Hundreds of choices for trying and testing for customers

Disadvantages of AR

  • Technology is still very expensive because of the hardware.
  • Slow frame rates and lags can cause irritation.
  • Decreased activity among people.
  • Not all devices have readily available support.

Advantages of VR

  • Immersive learning experience.
  • Training for hundreds of situations.
  • Reduced costs for military and medical training and education.
  • An attractive feature for gaming and entertainment companies.
  • Enhanced customer experience as a great marketing tool for companies.

Disadvantages of AR

  • Technology is still very expensive because of the hardware.
  • Lags and delays between human interaction and screen response can cause dizziness and headaches.
  • Continuous exposure to the screen can cause eye problems and headaches.
  • Less interaction with real people and the environment.
  • Low guarantee of working flawlessly in all situations and devices.


In this blog, we have learned about the key differences between augmented reality and virtual reality in terms of their basic concepts, working, applications, advantages, and disadvantages. If there is one thing we want you to understand from this article, it is that now is the time to incorporate these technologies into your business. As the cost of hardware and software goes down, we will see an increasing adoption throughout the world.

Technology news must be a top priority if you want to learn about the current state of the market and its possible evolution. As a highly reputed source of technology-related news, we at Top World Business make sure that you stay updated on the latest trends and receive the correct information. In this fast-changing world, we make sure that you won’t miss a high potential investment.