Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: what’s the difference?

AR Stories

AR and VR are often confused with each other, and used interchangeably in the media, but they are significantly different. Let’s break it down:

Augmented Reality (AR): real, physical world

Virtual Reality (VR): computer generated environment, artificial world Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 2.25.41 PM In VR, the user is completely closed off from the physical world, fully immersed in a computer generated simulation. Eg: Oculus Rift

In AR, the user is still in their physical space, now with additional digital data layered on top of the real world. Eg. Meta Spaceglasses

I often begin my presentations distinguishing between the two. Here’s one of my talks from TEDx in 2010.

The definition of AR is expanding to include things like wearable computing, new types of sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. I call this the second wave of AR. Read about it here in my upcoming book.

And if you’re wondering what the heck the HoloLens is that Microsoft announced, read about it here

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