VR vs AR: What's The Difference

VR vs. AR: What’s The Difference?

VR and AR and MR, oh my!

Oh, and don’t forget XR, too. With how expeditiously technologies advance, it’s no small wonder that people are often more likely to relegate those acronyms to a veritable alphabet soup than anything even remotely resembling the English language. And even once they’re decoded, the difference between them – specifically virtual reality and augmented reality – can still prove too close to call.

As we’ve discussed previously, the terms VR, AR, MR, and even XR refer to all the related technologies collectively – and that certainly doesn’t help un-muddy the waters. So here, we’ll focus on distinguishing VR and AR, and also cover how they’re actually similar, too.

What is Virtual Reality?

VR is a fully immersive computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real-life environment or situation experienced through headsets and earphones. It makes the user feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality in real life by stimulating and manipulating their vision and hearing.

And in the context of eLearning, VR can immerse learners into a new perspective, using 360° video, exclusively computer-generated synthetic content, or a hybrid of both.

What is Augmented Reality?

AR is an experience which combines layers of computer-generated enhancements and the learner’s actual environment in order to provide meaningful interaction. And while digital components are blended into the real world, they can be distinguished easily.

In the context of eLearning, students can view layered graphics, follow on-screen instructions, view and understand complex processes, and more, making the training experience more realistic with a combination of mobile-based learning, interactivity, and multimedia.

How Are VR and AR Similar?

  • Both realities provide an environment in which learners can experiment and since most people learn from trial-and-error, simulated work environments boast risk-free learning.
  • Both realities offer interactive multimedia elements which engage learners and eliminate distractions.

How Are VR and AR Different?

  • Where augmented reality enhances experiences by adding virtual components, virtual reality creates its own computer-generated reality.
  • Virtual reality delivers its experience through head-mounted or hand-held controllers, whereas augmented reality is experienced on mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

VR and AR: A Collaboration

Despite the title of this article, both virtual and augmented realities needn’t exist in vacuums, completely isolated and mutually exclusive. In fact, while they both play nicely on their own, they can also share a sandbox well, too.

They can be used concurrently to create an even more immersive experience. For example, consider when an augmentation, such as vibration – otherwise known as haptic feedback – is added to interact with graphics to make virtual reality more lifelike through the sense of touch.

With amazing new reality technologies, the chasm between seemingly impossible science fiction – hello, Ready Player One – and the reality of today seems to narrow exponentially.

As is often the case, truth is stranger than fiction – and those truths yield limitless potential for both the world of eLearning and learners alike.