What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer technology that uses virtual reality headsets, sometimes in combination with physical spaces or multi-projected environments, to generate realistic images, sounds, and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment. A person using virtual reality equipment is able to ‘look around’ the artificial world, and with high quality, VR moves around in it and interact with virtual features or items.”
VR replaces your whole worldview with a simulation in some way or another. Usually, the effect is created by VR headsets that consist of head-mounted goggles with a screen in front of the eyes. Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung’s Gear, or Google Cardboard is all VR devices — they involve looking into a headset with lenses that look at a virtual screen. In the simplest of terms, the virtual screen has a stereoscopic view which the eye adjusts to see as a 3D image.
Virtual reality replaces your world with a virtual one — the headset tracks where you are looking and reflects those movements in the virtual display. VR makes you completely immersed in another world and blocks everything else.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are ‘augmented’ by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called computer-mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer.
Simply speaking, AR supplements your world with digital objects of any sort. Google Glass is an AR head, overlays data, 3D objects and video into your vision in some way or another. All this while continuing to let you see the world around you. Airline pilot helmets that display data within the pilot’s view as they fly are AR headsets.
Then there are Spatial Augmented Reality (SAR) systems, which are capable of augmenting real-world objects and scenes without the use of special displays such as monitors or head-mounted displays. In SAR, digital projectors are used to overlay graphical information onto physical objects, and therefore the display is not linked to the user individually. Because the displays are not associated with each user, SAR allows for collaboration between users.