Reality Check – Virtual Reality Vs Augmented Reality in Today’s Digital World

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are terms that are growing more and more popular in our tech-driven world. With the rise in their popularity, web designers and developers are racing to find new applications and approaches to both. But what exactly are they? How do virtual and augmented reality differ from each other?

What is Virtual Reality?

We’ve all seen those roller coaster rides in the mall. No, not the rollercoasters sprawled around on tracks. We are talking about the ones where enthusiasts are seated in mobile apparatuses and thrust around with those bulky, awkward looking headsets covering their eyes.

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This is virtual reality. It takes computer programming paired with a fancy headset and unleashes a whole new world on participants. Users are able to see, hear, and interact with a world completely distinct from the one they are actually standing in.

Virtual Reality Technology

Virtual reality (VR) has exploded onto the gaming industry scene. No longer are players limited to the screen or screens they have set up for gameplay. With a VR headset, the only thing in their vision is the screen, completely immersing them in the game. Whether playing solo or paired up with a group, this new realm has proven to be a hit among gaming enthusiasts.

However, virtual reality isn’t just about fun and games. It is also used to train medical students by creating a safe and controlled simulation of real-life surgeries. It has served as “exposure therapies” to treat those afflicted with PTSD. It has even been utilized by militaries to train soldiers. Although the boom of VR technology has been slow to get started, a host of different industries are all experimenting with it to find new, creative applications.

What is Augmented Reality?

Although similar, augmented reality (AR) doesn’t offer the same experience as virtual reality. Think Pokemon Go! Instead of complete engrossment like you find with VR, AR alters or “adds” to your perception of the world around you. It attaches additional information giving you a deeper level of interaction with your environment in real time.

Augmented Reality Technology

Augmented Reality has been with us a while with its first popular commercial use coming in televised sports. The yellow “first down” line in football telecasts gives viewers at home the opportunity to know when the team gets a first down even before the fans sitting in the stands. In much the same way, meteorologists have used AR to give in-depth illustrations of weather patterns and forecasts to a televised audience.

AR has also taken social media by storm. Millions of Snapchat users create hours of content using the app because of its AR capabilities. These filters create fun and humorous images on the user’s face that they are then able to send to or share with others.

But AR isn’t just used in the entertainment industry. Its GPS capabilities have taken navigation to whole new levels. From apps such as Google Sky Map which lets users view the stars and constellations with detailed information, to apps that help you to design your home with new furniture layouts, we have seen AR used in a variety of fascinating and fun-filled ways.

There is no question that the potential of these new technologies has gone largely untapped. With new ideas and designs constantly being developed, virtual reality and augmented reality will continue to surprise us in all realms of life, including entertainment, healthcare, education, and navigation. These two similar but different forms of reality are sure to be on the rise in today’s digital world.