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Virtual Reality vs Augmented reality

What is the difference between these two technologies.?

Augmented or virtual  ... It is not so easy to navigate with all these forms of reality. While differentiating between virtual and augmented realities is quite easy, the definition is less obvious when you combine the two.

The origins of the concepts

The concepts of virtual reality and augmented reality may have enjoyed relatively recent popularity, but their origin is not new. For virtual reality, we have to go back to 1962 to find its appearance, with the creation of Sensorama by Morton Heilig. Later, in the 1980s, Steve Mann invented the EyeTap, a headset that displays virtual information in front of the user's eyes, which can be described as the first example of augmented reality. As for mixed reality, we had to wait a few years, in 1994, to see it develop.

None of these technologies is therefore really new, yet they are only just starting to become popular with the general public. The main large high-tech groups like Google, Facebook, Sony and Microsoft have already offered their own augmented, virtual or mixed reality solutions. And that's where the mistakes are.

Let's take a quick tour of all these concepts to try to understand something.

Virtual reality

It is surely the technology of the moment, the one that is on everyone's lips because of the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive headsets (by HTC and Valve). Virtual reality immerses the user in a virtual world modelled in three dimensions, in which it is possible to move and interact.

The whole idea of ​​a virtual reality headset is to create a simulation that comes as close to reality as possible. To do this, the main devices are also based on a technology known as sound spatialization. Translation: It is possible to hear "3D" sounds, to be able to locate them in front of, behind or beside you and to have the impression of a certain distance.

The only downside: it is possible to experience nausea, dizziness or headaches depending on the person or the experience. This is due to the latency between when the player moves their head and when the screen displays movement. This delay was particularly important a few years ago, making the experience unpleasant, but this latency has improved markedly in recent times and is now almost zero.

Augmented reality

To put it simply, augmented reality uses the real world to display information (in 2D or 3D), with which the user will be able to interact. This data appears through a specific device, which can range from headphones (or glasses) to a smartphone, tablet or computer. It is therefore a technology that superimposes virtual elements (numbers, images, texts) on our view of the real world. Perceived reality is thus augmented with digital information to provide more details about its environment.


One of the advantages of augmented reality glasses is that they can function independently and be easily transportable. Unlike virtual reality headsets, it can therefore be an everyday object used for taking photos, surfing the net, geotagging or working.

For the moment reserved for a small public and difficult to afford, it will be a few years before they see their prices drop and their use democratized.

What are the uses of these technologies? 

Virtual reality is transforming several sectors. In the lead: video games, education, medicine and the military. This is not so surprising given that since each movement is reproduced in the virtual universe, the immersion is total and makes it possible to organize simulations with great precision.

For their part, augmented reality is geared more towards broader sectors, such as leisure, industry, automotive or even aerospace. The list goes on, given that this technology allows for much more versatile use than VR headsets. An example: the communications agency Zugara, which offered customers of certain stores the opportunity to virtually try on their clothes via an augmented reality mirror, without having to change.

All things considered, there is a fine line between these two technologies. However, they convey two quite different visions in case they share common features.