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Author  Chioma Ibeakanma


Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are fairly new terms that have become increasingly popular over the past few years. With their cool technology and impact in all the fields and sectors, one question arises. What is the difference between VR and AR? This article will answer this question comprehensively.

What is Virtual Reality?

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Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of three-dimensional environments or images. It allows the user to be immersed in seemingly real environments and interact with them using electronic devices. The most common and recognizable virtual reality device is the head-mounted display (HMD.)

Graphics only aren’t enough to induce and immerse a user into a 3D world. To achieve optimum results, as many senses as possible, touch, hearing, vision, and even smell are simulated to generate the 3D world.  

VR can make you feel like you’re in Ancient Egypt on an archaeological mission or in space landing on the moon.

What are the applications of Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality is not only limited to games and can be applied in different sectors like entertainment, education, military, medicine, therapy, and even business. 

  • Entertainment

Even though virtual reality is widely recognized in the gaming field, it can also be used in different entertainment sectors. In the film industry, many companies are using virtual reality to create more immersive cinematic experiences and make the audience feel more involved in the movies.

Virtual reality is also used in creating virtual museums, galleries, and theme parks. Users can, from the comfort of their homes, go on tours and experience and view the environments from different angles. They are also able to walk in and visit different parts and rooms of the building. They can do this because a tracking device is inbuilt into the HMD which tracks their movements and send the information back to the computer. The computer then changes the image in front of them as they move to improve the sense of realism.

  • Education

Human beings are very visual creatures and learn faster when they experience what they learn. Virtual reality has made education easier in schools, medicine, and even the military.

  • Schools

In schools, Virtual Reality is used as visual aids to improve learning. Students can go to space to understand how the solar system works, they can also go on field trips and excursions. Virtual reality is used to explain formerly abstract concepts to students.

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  • Medicine

Virtual reality is used in medicine to create consequence-free environments to train doctors and nurses using simulations hence removing the risk of harm to patients and mistakes. 

  • Military

Yes, Virtual Reality is used in the military (army, navy, and air force). It has helped to train the soldiers for combat situations, flight simulations, vehicle simulations, and dangerous situations without the risks of death and injury that come with them. It is also used for medical training.

What Is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is an experience where real-world objects are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. Digital information is superimposed onto real-life objects. It adds digital material like videos and images into your real world.  

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Imagine that the real world and virtual world are two points a distance apart. Augmented Reality is somewhere in the middle. It blends the real world and virtual/digital information to create an artificial environment. Augmented reality can either add to your natural environment or mask it.

Augmented reality is not limited to HMDs, a lot of other devices like smartphones, tablets, and even glasses. Contact lenses that use Augmented Reality technology are still in development.

What Are The Applications Of Augmented Reality?

Over the years, many applications and software have been developed to make augmented reality technologies more available and accessible to the general public. The world has advanced from using Augmented Reality in only gaming industries to education, navigation, medicine, commerce, industrial manufacturing, architecture, urban design, and even fitness.  

  • Commerce

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One field that has greatly used augmented reality is the business industry to improve the customer viewing experience. Customers that browse for goods, especially furniture, online can conveniently view how the products would look in their environments. A 3D model of the product is added to their environment making customer choice more effective. Some fashion companies have also made dressing booths that allow customers to see how clothes would look on them without physically trying them on.

  • Navigation

Users can now navigate unknown cities better with AR. Unlike traditional GPS software, AR superimposes or adds navigation directions to the screens or in some cars, windshields, to better direct the user.

  • Design and planning

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In urban design and architecture, computer-generated images of buildings and structures are superimposed onto open spaces to preview how they would look before construction. Augmented Reality is used to visualize construction sites, underground plans, cables, and pipes before actual work is carried out. On-site inspections are replicated with holograms onto the facilities in real-time. This reduces cost and allows for faster and more effective design processes.

  • Education

As humans, especially children, are visual learners, Augmented Reality is used to superimpose learning materials onto the child’s learning environment. AR improves the child’s knowledge, retention and has proven to increase engagement in learning.


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Virtual reality is a computer generated simulation and creates its own world or environment while augmented reality enhances the ongoing perception of a user’s real world. In AR, the user still has a sense of the real world, while in VR the computer takes total control of the user’s visual senses. Virtual reality closes out the real world while Augmented Reality augments or improves what the user sees.

Virtual reality requires the use of headsets and other expensive technology while augmented reality doesn’t require the use of headsets and is considerably cheaper than virtual reality.


Augmented and virtual reality have a lot of similarities as they both deal with providing virtual experiences and can be applied in similar fields. However, they are very different and the main difference is the perception of one’s presence.  



© 2021 Chioma Ibeakanma. All Rights Reserved

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