Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR)
As our world continues to evolve, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), are leading the charge for technological development. While they may sound similar and are often mistaken as the same thing, they are two vastly different approaches to an alternate reality, both with characteristics that readily distinguish one from the other. However, they do have one remarkable common ground: the exceptional ability to alter the perception we have of the world. This unique opportunity to experience reality in new and profound ways has revolutionized the world. Projections suggest that the global AR and VR market will reach $30.7 billion in 2021, rising to nearly $300 billion by 2024, according to Statista.
According to our Head of AR/VR Development, Samar Shool, AR immerses virtual content into the user’s real world, whereas VR immerses the user themself into a completely virtual world cut off from their immediate surroundings. Think about going scuba diving versus going to the aquarium. With VR one can swim next to dolphins, whereas with AR you could experience the dolphin popping out of the aquarium wall in front of you! While the decision to use AR vs VR depends on one’s unique business objectives, there are some comparisons that can help narrow down the best option:
When it comes to hardware features, there are certain limitations. A headset-based AR experience can be complex to engineer. As Shool explains, “there is an existing need to use more outer monitoring sensors on the AR device in order to accurately scan and register your space in order to effortlessly project the virtual.” These details make it difficult for the average consumer to access them due to budgetary constraints. On the other hand, VR devices require less outside sensors and more core inner robust features—which also have been studied for longer than AR’s hardware. As a result, VR devices are less costly and more accessible to everyday consumers.
Manufacturing applications of VR are less advanced than those using AR. In product design, for example, the use of VR is limited to identifying potential issues before the product is built in a risk-free environment and at reduced costs. Meanwhile, AR offers the user an opportunity to give the product a digital life and understand its activity at every stage of its development. It also allows for stakeholders to see in a virtual 3D format the working model and easily showcase its benefits. Ford, for example, has now begun to use AR technology to stop clay prototyping by using 3D virtual models instead.
Education is undeniably impacted by technology. When an educational institution decides between AR or VR, it ultimately depends on their learning strategy and intent, given that both solutions provide an engaging learning experience albeit in different capacities. To bring scientific concepts to life, AR tends to be the go-to fit. It enables students to see first hand how a tornado is formed and experience its destruction capabilities in a realistic setting. Similarly, the SkyView App lets students explore the universe by identifying constellations, planets, or stars by merely positioning their mobile device upward. On the contrary, if the institution’s goals are aiming for students to immerse themselves in an all-encompassing new reality, VR is best suited. The 1943 Berlin Blitz in 360˚ is a VR production that helped students understand what it was like to live in one of the most controversial historical events: World War II. This real-life footage included immersing them in a Nazi Germany’s nighttime raid.
Both VR and AR allow a user to interact with elements in the virtual world—without restrictions or creative limitations. In a new wave of post-Covid technological revolutions, unlocking excitement through memorable experiences and taking advantage of these leading tech phenomena is one of the primary ways we will continue to adapt to the “new normal”.