How Do AR and VR Work and What’s The Difference Between Them

Post date :

Aug 25, 2022

AR vs VR? Which one is better?

The short answer, neither. There’s really no contest here. These two realities are both part of the extended reality spectrum and both play a role in enabling us to have truly unique immersive and interactive experiences. The crucial question that should be asked is how does each one perform their roles in the spectrum.

Image source: UX for XR: From One Designer to Another | Aleatha Singleton & Circuit Stream - YouTube

The XR spectrum illustrates the reality-virtuality continuum which spans the digital shifts from real reality to virtual reality. Basically, real reality is the world we live in. Through augmented reality, this world is enhanced with digital overlays we can interact with. With virtual reality, this world is replicated or transformed digitally in scale to create fully immersive experiences in a virtual environment. Because AR offers varying levels of augmentation, it encompasses a smaller spectrum of mixed reality where the real world and the virtual world overlap in various degrees.

How Does Augmented Reality Work?

As its name implies, augmented reality enhances the real world with virtual content. It enriches perception without hindering the view of the actual surroundings. Digital 2D or 3D objects and environments are superimposed onto the real world using smartphones and other mobile devices. Augmented reality glasses such as Microsoft HoloLens and Snap’s Spectacles make the AR experience more realistic and interactive while still allowing users to move freely in real environments.

Pokémon Go is one of the first AR apps to achieve mainstream success. Social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok have AR filters. Apps such as IKEA Place, Google Maps, and SketchAR offer more practical uses for AR.

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AR technology uses the relative position and orientation of the world around us to determine where to project virtual objects. Markers can be used to enable AR apps to overlay the right information at the right time and place. This distinct characteristic of AR allows us to interact with both real and virtual objects in the same environment.

How Does Virtual Reality Work?

Virtual reality transports users into a virtually simulated world set apart from the real physical environment through the use of headsets or a confined space equipped with VR systems. The technology utilises computer vision, haptic devices, spatial sound, and advanced graphics to digitally reconstruct the real world or create imaginary virtual worlds. The life-size 3D digital environment and realistic 3D objects make users feel as if they are truly part of the virtual realm. 

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While fully immersed in a virtual environment, the movement and play space of a user is confined to a certain area. VR headsets with special lenses block the view of the real world, so users see only the digital environment. Controllers with sensors enable them to interact with the digital objects just as they would interact with similar objects in real life.

While video and arcade games are the most popular uses of VR technology, its applications have gone beyond the gaming and entertainment sector. It is also now used in teaching and training in various sectors including healthcare, military, manufacturing, construction, and education.

AR vs VR: Distinct Use Cases Require Distinct Devices

AR and VR may overlap in some ways, but they do have distinct use cases. As such, they require different devices to deliver experiences. Augmented reality can be experienced with common devices such as smartphones, tablets, and AR glasses. They do not require special equipment or dedicated spaces. On the other hand, virtual reality can only be experienced with the use of VR headsets like Oculus Quest, Valve Index, or HTC Vive. Haptic devices are also required for better interaction within the virtual world.

Be Future Ready With XR Skills

By 2027, the AR and VR market volume is projected to reach over $50 billion. With this significant growth in just five years, we can expect the demand for XR talent to grow tremendously as well. If you want to advance your career in this field, you must equip yourself with the knowledge and skills for designing and developing immersive experiences.

One of the best ways to build your XR arsenal is to take courses offered by the University of British Columbia Extended Learning in collaboration with Circuit Stream. Online programs in XR development and design run for ten weeks and grant industry-recognised certificates to those who successfully complete the course and fulfill the requirements. The Unity development bootcamp runs for 30 weeks and paves the way for earning an Associate Programmer Certification. Click on the links below to view the brochures for each course: 

Prepare for a more immersive future and advance your career in XR by taking courses designed and led by industry experts. Enroll now and secure your slot for the next run of courses at UBC Extended Learning. 

© Circuit Stream.
This course is delivered by Circuit Stream in partnership with UBC Extended Learning.

© Circuit Stream. This course is delivered by
Circuit Stream in partnership with
UBC Extended Learning.

© Circuit Stream.
This course is delivered by Circuit Stream in partnership with UBC Extended Learning.