Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: Differences, Similarities and Uses

With all of these new technologies evolving every day, you will have heard of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as being the next big revolutionary techs. The two appear quite similar at a first glance, so you may be wondering what the difference is between the two. Pokemon Go is probably the first thing that springs to mind when you think of AR and when thinking of VR you’re most likely thinking of amusement park rides or video games. We’ve taken a more in-depth look at the two industries to understand the main differences.

Virtual Reality

VR is a computer-generated simulation/recreation of a real-life situation or environment. Users are immersed into it by being made to feel that they’re experiencing the simulated situation/reality first-hand visually and with sound.

Currently, VR is experienced mainly by wearing a special headset like the Oculus and it’s used mainly in a couple of different ways:

-Enhanced training for real life environments such as flight simulators for pilots

-Creating and enhancing fictitious realities in entertainment and gaming

All of this is possible thanks to a coding language called VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language) and it is particularly useful when creating series of images and specifying what’s possible for them in terms of interaction.

Augmented Reality

AR layers computer-created enhancements on top of existing reality. The goal is to make it more meaningful by giving users the ability to interact with the elements. This technology is predominantly developed into apps and is used on mobile devices blending digital elements into the real world enhancing one another. While VR is a completely immersive experience with AR you can tell reality and AR elements apart.

AR has already broken into the mainstream, with uses in sports, e-mails, text messages, photos and gaming. Innovators in the area are already also exploring the use of AR in terms of motion activated commands and holographic elements.

VR and AR- what are the similarities?

Back-end Technology

Both AR and VR use some of the same technologies and exist to provide an enhanced experience to users.

Entertainment and Gaming

In today’s world, AR and VR are becoming more and more popular and sought after in entertainment and gaming. With users becoming more tech-savvy, innovators in the industry are constantly developing improvements and releasing more apps and products to keep up with demand. While in the past these two technologies were a thing only achievable in fiction these days it’s becoming a fact of life.

VR and AR- what are the differences?


VR creates its own reality, fully immersing the user into it by the use of completely computer driven and generated environments. AR however, enhances user experience by overlapping virtual elements such as digital graphics, images or sensations as a new layer of interaction with reality.


AR is used in mobile devices (tablets, smart phones, laptops) and it alters the way that digital images and graphics intersect and interact with the real world. On the other hand, VR is delivered to users through a hand-held or head-mounted controller. The use of this equipment allows users to navigate and control their actions in an environment that simulates the “real world”.

AR and VR- do they work together?

Often times the boundaries between virtual reality and augmented reality blur. They’re not always completely independent of each other as they’re usually combined to create an even more well-rounded immersive experience. Take haptic feedback for example (where graphics interact with sensation/vibration)- it’s considered an augmentation element but it’s used a lot in a VR environment to enhance the life-like experience.

With humanity’s fascination with all-encompassing immersive experience VR and AR are here to stay. Whether combined or stand-alone these technologies are gateways to new worlds both in the our world or the virtual realm.

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