Difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

By: | Updated: Feb-1, 2018

When it comes to computer-generated simulations, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) resonate well with the tech-savvy market. The experience of these two types of artificial environment is easily gaining traction even to those not too familiar with modern technology. Some people though, mistake one for the other and cannot clearly distinguish between the two. Let us help you understand the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality.

Summary Table

Virtual Reality Augmented Reality
Shows an entirely virtual worldShows a mix of virtual world and real world
Difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is not realCan interact and clearly distinguish between virtual and real world
Achieved with the use of head-mounted display, closed visors, helmet or googlesAchieved with the use of clear visors or a smartphone


virtual reality ride
A virtual reality ride

Virtual reality is a totally immersive, lifelike experience of a three-dimensional environment that is achieved through computer-generated simulation. It provides a make-believe setup, often transposing the user somewhere else and completely changing the present state. The experience also gives the user the ability to manipulate objects or perform certain actions.

augmented reality app
Am augmented reality app

Augmented reality is an expansion of the real-world environment through the aid of computer-generated perception. It supplements a person’s current state of presence, taking the current scenario and layering certain enhancements on it. The experience adds digital components to the real world but still enables the user to distinguish between what is real and not.

Virtual Reality vs Augmented Reality

Virtual reality and augmented reality are both about altering perceptions of visual space. The main difference between virtual reality and augmented reality, however, is based on the user’s overall experience and use of technological equipment.

User experience

Virtual reality is all about providing a true-to-life virtual experience. It provides the user with an entire simulation of their present space. With virtual reality, it is difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is not real.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, is when digital information is integrated into the user’s present environment or space. Here, one can clearly distinguish between the virtual world and the real world.

Gadgets used

In order to achieve the virtual reality experience, head-mounted displays, closed visors, helmet or goggles are used. These gadgets deprive the user of access to other stimuli, often in terms of visual and auditory cues. This provides that imaginary reality and the feeling of experiencing the simulated world firsthand.

The augmented reality experience is achieved through the use of clear visors or smartphones. The apps used for smartphones usually include global positioning system (GPS) to determine the user’s current location. This enables users to interact with digital components while still being aware of their environment.

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