Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR)

by First Descent AR • 19 December 2018

While the real world can be amazing in its own right, some people want more; to be heroes or vigilantes, to save the princess or rule a kingdom. They seek an adventure in a completely virtual reality, where one can slay demons, cast spells, and craft entire worlds (from our own imaginations, or by recreating some of our favourites). Others want to add adventure to the real world so they bridge the real and virtual by turning to augmented reality, where the world is our own but it’s filled with digital characters, quests, and monsters to catch.

We’ve reached a point where AR and VR technologies are becoming part of our daily lives and are available to anyone with a smartphone. Here at Sherpa Marketing we want to help educate you on what augmented and virtual reality are, and what they could mean to you.

So What's The Difference Between Augmented And Virtual Reality?

We’ve touched on this in Sherpa Marketing’s Reality Bridge series on YouTube, but the core of what separates augmented reality and virtual reality is the world that surrounds you. In a VR experience, you’re immersing yourself into a fully digital environment. The ground, sky, NPCs (non-playable characters), and objects around you have all been created digitally to give you an entirely new world to explore and interact with.

With an AR experience, what you’re seeing and interacting with is real. The camera in your device is taking in a video feed of your environment and displaying it on-screen. Depending on what type of augmented reality is being implemented, the device is the displaying digital content woven into the real world, enabling users to interact with reality in a whole new way.

How Can I Use AR And VR?

Virtual reality is mostly used in gaming with a full headset like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive so that users are fully immersed. If you’re into video games, virtual reality is a great new trend that enhances interactive storytelling. Not just for gaming, VR is also being used to give people a chance to experience things they may not normally be able to, like virtual tours of historic sites, museums, and places not easily accessible to everyone.

Augmented reality, while also being used for games, has the opportunity to change the way we experience the real world. It’s allowing us to do things like show walking directions through a camera feed to see exactly where to turn and to stop at your destination (even having a digital helper to show you the way), or showing a marker over a friend’s head at a concert or festival so you can more easily locate each other. It’s even assisting with education by giving students the ability to digitally dis- and re-assemble complex objects like car engines, explore human and animal anatomy, and explore the solar system, all from inside of a classroom without the need for any equipment other than a tablet or smartphone.

What's The Catch...?

There are a few caveats to virtual reality. Blocking the real world from sight is good for immersion but can lead to some safety issues (for the user and for those around them), although higher-end systems have sensors that can raise a display in the virtual world to warn a user of nearby obstacles and walls. There’s also the need for extra peripherals to control the content in virtual reality, which add to the cost of VR setups. PlayStation VR can cost upwards of $500 just for the headset and controllers, and larger systems including spatial sensors can be over $1000. This is making entry into VR more than most consumers are willing to pay for, and therefore more than many industries are willing to commit to.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, is being pushed by Google and Apple to natively operate on smartphones and devices that most people either own or have access to. This is great for consumers, as the entry into AR usage is easier than ever… however it raises an issue from the commercial side; quantity over quality. There are many apps being deployed that use augmented reality in ways that don’t have a real benefit to the user beyond the initial “wow” factor. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, AR has the opportunity to revolutionize how we interact with the real world and we need to be cautious to not overexpose users and companies to a point where the technology is taken for granted.



If Augmented and Virtual Reality is something you think can benefit you or your business but aren’t sure how, or just don’t have the technical expertise yourself, drop us a line! Sherpa Marketing has teams of marketing and technical experts that can advise and execute on your XR ideas!