The difference between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

difference between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

The difference between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

Both technologies – virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) – have evolved incredibly in recent years.

Thanks to faster, more powerful processors and computers, better graphic cards, sensors, and cameras, faster internet connections, and innovations in the field of software development, countless new possibilities have opened up for VR and AR in the private and industrial sectors alike.

What is the difference between the two technologies?

In order to understand how these two technologies differ, we have already explained the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality in detail for all those who wanted to know exactly and for all the others who like it short and sweet we have summarized the difference between VR and AR in a compact form.

The difference between virtual reality and augmented reality


Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality

  • The user no longer perceives the real environment

  • The user can only experience the digital 3D world with aids such as VR glasses

  • The better and more powerful the computer, the better the virtual reality experience

  • The virtual world can be seen, heard, and felt

  • VR is used for industrial applications, training, 3D games, property marketing, and much more

  • There are 360-degree images, 360-degree videos, and fully created 3D worlds

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality

  • The user still sees the real world, but receives additional information displayed

  • A smartphone, tablet, head-up display, holography system, or augmented reality glasses such as the Microsoft Hololens are required for this experience

  • Pokémon Go is currently the AR hype

  • AR provides games, interior furnishing planners, navigation apps, workshop instructions, and much more

  • The first AR display DEEP FRAMEwas presented at the CES, enabling augmented reality WITHOUT glasses

The difference between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)


Virtual Reality

Virtual reality means fully immersing yourself in a virtual world

Virtual reality (VR) enables users to experience a virtual 360-degree world, view it from all sides, move within it, and, ideally, even interact with it.

IMPORTANT: Users no longer perceive their real environment. Virtual reality makes it possible to experience simple things such as 360-degree images, 360-degree videos – which everyone can also produce themselves – and complex applications such as virtual reality games or special virtual reality applications, e.g. for the automotive industry, medical technology, the tourism sector, or even innovative systems such as VR configurators.

360-degree panoramic images have already become VR classics.

360-degree images of cities, e.g. with Google Street View, or 360-degree images of properties have already become standard, enabling the user to look at a new apartment or new house without leaving home or needing to be there personally at all. Whether looking around in every direction, taking a closer look at certain points, or even zooming in on them – none of these options are any longer a challenge. The user has the feeling of being directly there, opening up completely new possibilities, such as in property marketing, because customers immediately build up a much stronger emotional bond with what they are seeing.

This is the crucial difference between AR and VR. With virtual reality (VR) the customer HAS the feeling of really being there, with augmented reality (AR) the user MUST be at the location in order to get more information.

360-degree videos are the next step up from 360-degree images and enable you, for example, to go sightseeing in a faraway city, go to a concert, or report editorially from distant countries without actually leaving your home. The first cinema films are already being produced in 360-degree quality, enabling users to experience the highlights without having to be there in reality.

The new level of virtual reality is artificially created 3D worlds in which users can fully immerse themselves.

VR games

VR games are a constant source of new possibilities. Faster computers are capable of presenting 3D worlds in a highly realistic way and additional hardware such as VR gloves or controllers make it possible to move around in the 3D world. For instance, you can climb mountains, fight historical battles, ride roller coasters, steer spaceships, or disappear into dreamlike worlds. The special thing about this technology is that users not only see and hear the 3D world – they can feel it as well. Standing on a cliff, you literally experience the fear of falling down into the abyss. On the roller coaster your heart is really in your mouth and under water you feel as if you were floating. In a nutshell, VR is pretty impressive, but you only really know what it’s about after you’ve tried on an HTC VIVE or OCULUS RIFT for the first time.

VR applications for the industrial sector

VR applications for the industrial sector are becoming increasingly popular. The applications are always developed to suit the particular needs of the respective companies. Simulators for educational and training purposes, therapeutic VR applications to overcome fears, VR product configurators for new vehicles, kitchens, and smart home products, but also virtual presentations of new products as highlights at trade shows and events … the possibilities in this field are unlimited.

Virtual Reality is changing more and more from a mere gimmick to a provider of industrial added value. 

For example, educational content can be communicated better and faster, expensive rents, e.g. for shop space, can be reduced by making better use of the available space, products can be marketed more emotionally, and new prototypes can be experienced without having to build them at great expense.

Virtual reality will give us a great deal of joy and amaze us in the years to come – if we are prepared to follow this innovative path.

augmented reality browser

Augmented reality (AR) means that the real world is enriched with virtual content.

Augmented reality is a digital technology in which reality – i.e. all the things you can see right now – is supplemented with additional information in the form of texts, images, animations, videos, and static or moving 3D objects.

IMPORTANT: Users perceive virtual elements in their real environment. Augmented reality brings books to life when they are scanned with a smartphone camera, provides city and tourist information on places of interest in seemingly open spaces, offers great training opportunities for companies, and makes it possible to plan interior design by virtually placing chairs and tables in your own living room.

In contrast to virtual reality, which requires VR glasses or a cardboard, augmented reality can be accessed via smartphones, tablets, head-up displays, holographic systems, or augmented reality glasses, such as the Microsoft Hololens or Google Glasses – depending on the desired AR application.

New at the CES in Las Vegas,  DEEP FRAME, the world’s first augmented reality display, was presented.

Augmented reality for navigation

Virtual objects and information are imported for the user in such a way that he or she perceives both the real world and the virtual overlays simultaneously. Examples of applications for augmented reality include navigation devices or head-up displays in cars that guide the user to the desired destination and provide additional information such as traffic congestion warnings, road diversions, or information on buildings in the field of vision on the way – always depending on the current location.

Augmented reality gaming – good for tourism

Cities and municipalities can also provide valuable information for tourists. A well-known example from the gaming sector is the game “Pokémon Go”, which displays virtual objects, namely Pokémon, at a variety of places throughout the world. Players need nothing more than their own smartphone to collect virtual Pokémon within their own real environment. The game also has an important side effect, as it enables storeowners or service providers to guide a lot of potential customers to their locations by making virtual Pokémon available to collect.

The first augmented reality display worldwide – DEEP FRAME

Augmented Reality Display Einsatz im Museum

This year at the CES in Las Vegas, the first augmented reality display known as DEEP FRAME was introduced. This display works WITHOUT additional glasses and WITHOUT a tablet.

Its specially designed lens, which is also used in space telescopes,  enables the viewer to simply look through DEEP FRAME and see the virtual world. As the photo shows, visitors to the museum can see the virtual dinosaur walking around “live” through the window or lens in the exhibition area.

This new technology is attracting a lot of attention because it allows every visitor to see the virtual worlds without needing an additional device. In the near future we are likely to see this AR display being used in museums and showrooms as well as at trade shows or high-value product presentations.

Microsoft Hololens – the augmented reality glasses

Microsoft Hololense

Microsoft Hololens is the latest in augmented reality glasses.

Users wear wireless glasses that work independently. Although they can fully perceive the real world, they can simultaneously interact with virtually displayed objects via gesture control. In the near future, wearers of inconspicuous mobile data glasses will also be provided with valuable information and apps in real time as they go about their everyday business or leisure activities.

With Pokémon Go, augmented reality achieved a breakthrough among private customers, whereas head-up technology is most widely used in the industrial environment. Here, the breakthrough is expected to come with the new generations of AR glasses – which are even more powerful and offer a wider range of possibilities.

Matthias Mangold

Leiter Innovation

Telefon: +49 6132 899 04 210