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The Difference Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

by | Aug 7, 2017

Virtual reality and augmented reality have one thing in common: the ability to alter what we see and perceive as the “real” world around us. Their difference lies in the amount of  immersion the user experiences in the altered reality. To put this in perspective, think of watching sharks swim from inside a boat vs. cage diving with a great white. In this example, augmented reality is like watching sharks swim and virtual reality is like cage diving.



Imagine you’re sitting in your living room, you put on a headset, and suddenly you’re in South Africa watching elephants walk by. This is virtual reality, a full immersion of altered reality. Virtual reality uses all of your senses (vision, sound and sometimes smell) to transport you to a new place for an experience unrelated to your surroundings or location. Virtual reality is most commonly seen in gaming and training for people to practice a task, such as flight simulators for pilots.



Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality takes your current surroundings, in real time, and alters them to create an interactive experience for the user. This is done by layering computer-generated experiences on top of what you would see normally. Augmented reality is most commonly used for education purposes and in apps on mobile devices.

A mobile app called “Seek” is utilizing augmented reality to create an experience of real time, location-based treasure hunting where users can win prizes from brands like Nike and Amazon. When the user comes upon a treasure chest, the app uses the phone’s camera to superimpose a chest over their surroundings. Users then virtually “open” the chest to claim their prize.

Both of these technologies are ever growing and just the beginning of what is to come. To learn more about the Seek app and how it utilizes augmented reality, visit our website here.

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