Q. What’s the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality? These tech terms seem interchangeable to me, but I found out the hard way that they’re not. I used the term virtual reality when I should have said augmented reality in referring to Pokémon GO. Let’s just say the eye roll I got from my teenage son was almost audible.
So what is the difference between the two? Thanks in advance for your help.
A. Great question. Quite a few readers have asked this, especially after my most recent article on Facebook’s plans for both augmented and virtual reality. So you’ve inspired an article topic that may help many people.
Tech can alter your reality in many ways, including augmented reality and virtual reality. The terms can be confusing and you’re not the only one to think they’re the same.
This illustration does a good job of helping to show the difference between augmented and virtual reality.
Augmented reality, or AR as it’s known in the tech world, is defined as “an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to add digital information on an image of something.”
AR is used in apps for smartphones and tablets. AR apps use your phone’s camera to show you a view of the real world in front of you, then put a layer of information, including text and/or images, on top of that view.
Apps can use AR for fun, such as Pokémon GO, or for information, such as the app Layar.
Layar can show you interesting information about places you visit using augmented reality. Open the app when you’re visiting a site and read about it with information that appears in a layer over your view. You can also find ATM’s, see real estate for sale, find restaurants and more using the AR feature of the app. You may even discover new sites you didn’t know existed.
Layar also works with printed materials that are designed for the app. You can interact with the augmented reality images that appear to hover over the page.
This video shows you how augmented reality works with the Layar app.
See, Digital Trends The 20 Best Augmented Reality Apps.
Virtual Reality, or VR, is defined as “the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment.” When you view virtual reality, you are viewing a completely different reality than the one in front of you.
Virtual reality may be artificial, such as an animated scene, or a real one that has been photographed and included in a virtual reality app. With virtual reality you can move around and look in every direction — up, down, sideways and behind you, as if you were really there.
With virtual reality apps you can explore places you’ve never been, such as the surface of Mars, the top of Mt. Everest, or areas deep under the sea. The New York Times has a virtual reality app that lets you become immersed in virtual environments on Earth and other planets.
Google Earth also has a virtual reality app. This video shows you how it works:
Learn about other virtual reality apps at Entertainment Cheat Sheet 11 of the Best Virtual Reality Apps Available Right Now.
Have you ever wondered about augmented reality versus virtual reality? Have you tried apps using either one?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
*Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality image used with permission of Halfprice.com.au
Google Docs Phishing Scheme
Warning! A Google Docs phishing scheme is sweeping the Internet. If you get an email from someone, even someone you completely trust, inviting you to a Google Doc, do not click on the link. Delete the email, then empty your trash (your email trash, not the trash in your trash can. Well, okay, you can do that too…)
The only exception to that advice is if you are expecting the email and you confirm with sender that the Google Doc link is not a scam.
This article from Wired explains more about the phishing scheme: Don’t Open That Google Doc Unless You’re Positive It’s Legit.
Voice of America Learning English
Interest in tech? Want to learn the English language? Check out my personal technology column at Voice of America Learning English. This week’s article is: Is a Flying Car in Your Future?