According to the IDC report
, worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is set to accelerate as a result of the pandemic, growing from just over $12.0 billion this year to $72.8 billion in 2024. With so many people stuck inside for so long, it's only natural people want newer and better forms of home entertainment.
So with all that in mind, let's take a look at the meaning of, and difference between, augmented reality and virtual reality.
Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, and olfactory. For instance, some retail businesses use AR to promote or advertise their products and services and launch marketing campaigns. A great example is IKEA, who created an app which allows users to see how furniture will look in their houses and fit into the space they want to fill.
AR is used in many other sectors besides retail. For example, in football games and other sporting events, broadcasters are able to draw lines, circles, and arrows on the field to illustrate and analyze matches. During excursions to Pompeii in Italy, visitors can get a view of ancient civilizations over today's ruins, bringing the past to life. Augmented reality means additional data can be easily projected onto existing information.
In contrast, virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated environment with scenes and objects that appear to be real. Through a virtual reality viewer, users can look up, down, or any which way, as if they were actually in the place being portrayed by VR. The hardware devices necessary for immersion in a virtual reality are goggles with a screen, gloves fitted with sensors, and/or headphones.
VR technologies are particularly prevalent in healthcare, gaming, engagement, and the travel industry. In the case of healthcare, VR can be used to make kids feel more comfortable while at the dentist or during an MRI, which is very long and loud, by transporting them to another place within the VR world. In this case, VR serves as a distraction from painful, uncomfortable, and lengthy procedures. Continuing with examples in the medical area, this technology can also be used for mental therapy. VR allows therapists to see how patients with mental problems react to various circumstances by immersing them in different virtual scenarios. Virtual reality means an entire virtual world can be made to replace the real world.
For more examples, we recommend you read this article about 10 Amazing Uses of Virtual Reality
So, the main difference between AR and VR is that AR adds to reality, projecting information on top of what you're already seeing, while VR replaces reality, taking you somewhere else.