What is the difference between VR and AR?

Virtual Reality (VR) has become a buzzword since the last few months owing to the market being flooded by affordable VR headsets.

 Another technology called Augmented Reality (AR) is also getting a lot of attention from big businesses. A common user of electronics does not know what the difference between the two. In this article, we will try to explain the main difference between the worlds of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Both AR and VR objects are both generated by computers. But there is a fundamental difference in the way people view and use them.

 VR is created by completely shutting off the human eyes from other external stimuli and giving it’s a simulated 3D world that moves according to a person’s head movement. It fills the user’s field of view and, thanks to low latency sensors and high frame rate display, tricks the brain into believing the virtual world is real. To accomplish this, it uses screens and lenses to project a three-dimensional view. Using VR, you can be led to believe you are riding in a rocket or running with the wild buffaloes in Africa.

 In AR, the device adds something to our existing reality. You will still be in the same room, but a new layer of information could be projected on your lenses so that it superimposes over the objects around your room. Your headset could be a clear screen or you could project information on any surface around you and then manipulate it with your hands.

 The difference between AR and VR can be explained with this simple example. In VR, you can swim with the sharks under water. With AR, you can make the shark appear on the floor of your room. Magic Leap showed its AR ability in a Basketball court when they projected a whale splashing into the water right in front of everyone’s eyes using projection-based AR.

The Applications for AR is believed to be life-changing and is considered to be a major technology leap. All the big companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google are working on harnessing this technology. Microsoft has released HoloLens as one of its first AR devices. Magic Leap is expected to release its first device in late 2018.

Apple has been rumoured to be secretly working on an AR device set which will be released in early 2020.

 One big advantage AR has over VR is that it can be used with full awareness of our surrounding and thus it does not have the side effects commonly seen with VR users like motion sickness or vertigo.

 The technology is still in development phase and developer kits are available at a premium price.

 In the next two years, expect the retails versions to come out and by 2021, we should all be able to play with AR in our daily life. Interestingly, most AR headsets may also be VR capable. So if you just wait a few years, you can enjoy both at the same time.

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