Who would have thought that we would live in a world where virtual reality and augmented reality technology was commonplace and accessible to the public? Inventors and scientists have dreamt of virtual reality technology for years and since the 1950’s various prototypes and early creations were made such as The CAVE and The Sword of Damocles. It was not until the last 5 years however that virtual and augmented reality technologies have really taken off and exploded in popularity and usage.
We can now purchase simple viewing devices such as the Google Cardboard headset, through to complex fully-fledged virtual reality headsets such as the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. These devices allow us to experience virtual and augmented realities in an immersive and entertaining way. Whilst augmented and virtual reality technologies share similarities, they are totally different and this is often something that is confused. The below looks at the many differences between augmented reality vs. virtual reality.
Augmented Reality – extending our own reality
Augmented reality is a technology that implants virtual objects into real life landscapes. A simple example is of the popular augmented reality game Pokémon Go. When playing Pokémon Go, the user must physically move around their surroundings and attempt to capture little monsters called Pokémon. The user looks at their real-world surroundings through their camera, and augmented reality technology imposes the Pokémon monsters into those real-world surroundings – it looks as if the monsters are actually standing in front of you.
So as you can see, augmented reality is a type of technology that enhances our own reality. We can use augmented reality to implant computer-generated images in real-life situations. Other examples of augmented reality include the Mondly language learning assistant, Ink Hunter tattoo visualizing tool and WallaMe hidden message app.
Virtual Reality – creating new realities to explore
Now that you understand how augmented reality works, we can look at how virtual reality differs. Virtual Reality is fundamentality different from augmented reality as it immerses us in fully-crafted 3D worlds. Where augmented reality places computer-generated objects into the real world, virtual reality creates worlds from scratch and the implants virtual objects into those worlds.
Think of virtual reality as a highly advanced computer game that offers users an immersive experience. Virtual reality often combines together with motion sensors and motion controllers to allow users to feel as if they are actually controlling the action with their own body. Combine this with virtual reality headsets that translate 2D images into 3D constructs and you have a technology like nothing else. Virtual Reality games such as Colossee, for example, allow us to explore superb 3D worlds whilst watching a story unfold. Alternatively, Ocean Rift is a VR app that allows us to explore the oceans of our world and see its many creatures.
As you can see, virtual reality and augmented reality are quite different although they use similar viewing devices and both make use of computer-generated imagery.