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

What’s the Difference between AR & VR?

In this day in age, we’re able to experience the world in a whole new way. See the world from outer space, explore the hype of far-away places, and take gaming to new levels by being part of it, rather than sitting outside of its realm. This new participation and involvement in alternative environments and perspectives is all due to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

You may think if you’re not a gamer then you have had minimal to no exposure to the AR and VR worlds, but we’re here to debunk that theory. AR is all around you, and its adaption into the present world with daily technological use has been nearly seamless for users.

Where to Find AR in Your World

Take your smartphone, for example. Applications like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram all offer camera filters that morph and skew your face, add on costumes or makeup, or warp your surrounding background. That is done with the use of AR. Back when people were walking around parks and city streets catching Pokémon, they were all immersed within AR. Pokémon Go was an app that fully relied on AR technologies, inserting characters all around a person’s real-life environment. These overlays onto a person’s real-life environment is all AR.

That is what AR is –the blending of interactive digital elements and sensory projections into our real-life environment. AR draws the lines between real life and virtual life, blurring the transition between the two.

Other examples of popular AR applications are Google SkyMap and smartphone constellation apps that provide information as to what constellations and stars are where in the sky as an overlay to the abyss you’re really looking up at. Amazon and Ikea even have a hand in AR now, offering a feature to view certain pieces of decor and furniture in your home before purchasing it. Apple, of course, couldn’t resist either. They released an iOS update containing its new ruler feature, using the phone’s camera to drop points across a surface, providing the user with an actual measurement.

All of these examples prove that not only is basically every single person in 2019 exposed to AR regularly, but that it’s also not so far-fetched or difficult to gain access to, which is a deciphering factor of AR, setting it apart from VR. Unlike VR, there is no specialized equipment, such as goggles or head mounted displays (HMD) needed in order to experience AR environments. All you need is one piece of technology, and it’s one you likely already have in your pocket no matter where you go: your smartphone.

Because AR is superimposed graphics, audio, and sensory enhancements over our real-world environment in real time, the technology is very easy to come by in 2019, whether you’d like to or not.

Virtual Reality Access and Its Role in CAD

Virtual reality, or VR, is not integrated into everyday life quite like AR. For any VR experience, an HMD is required. With an HMD or goggles, VR is made possible by completely immersing you in a different environment, which is the major difference between AR and VR.

Having been around since the 1950s in its earliest form, VR’s rebirth in the 2010s has it regaining the industrial’, corporate, and public’s attention. Now, with interest having peaked in 2016 and continuing, VR’s goal is to create what appears to be a lifesize, 3D virtual environment without any rules or boundaries, similar to the ones other forms of entertainment take on, like TVs and computer screens. Both of which have screens, enclosing the environment within them. VR allows you to walk around the new environment,viewing it from all different angles and perspectives.

Its 3D designs and mathematical models create the impression of depth, which provides users with multiple points of view and perspective. This opens up so many doors for opportunity in a plethora of industries. Again, VR goes beyond gaming and entertainment. Yes, it is mind blowing to be able to view outer space and many of its complexities just from your living room; however, VR is being developed to improve efficiencies in many other realms beyond entertainment, such as medical fields, engineering industries, and more.

In terms of engineering and design, VR alters computer-aided design (CAD) processes from how we once knew them. Because of VR, engineers and designers can now preview CAD in 3D, as ifit already existed in real life right in front of them. Because of this, it makes it easier to break down models into different pieces to pay closer attention to detail with increased clarity. The ability to create realistic models omits the need for excessive prototypes, which as a result, reduces overall production costs.

Beyond design, VR amplifies training capabilities. In the US military, VR is used in training systems to create simulation testing and put soldiers into seemingly real-life scenarios for practicing purposes. With such an environmental submersion that VR provides, this overtakes senses, allowing soldiers to practice and prepare how to take the proper initiatives and appropriate reactions to different situations that could appear in their military careers.

With VR, the HMD completely blocks out any surrounding real-life environment, which allows people to interact with this new virtual environment on a 1:1 scale without any distractions. Additional accessories are also available to cater to VR experiences such as varieties of HMDs, goggles, handles, and other controls for a more hands-on experience.

AR &VR in CAD and the Every Day World

Whether you’re creating in CAD and the engineering industry, progressing forward with AR/VR in medical fields, or you’re just a public consumer of the advancing technology, you can expect to see these alternate realities gaining power for years to come.

The future of AR and VR will be even more handheld than it is now, allowing humans to gain access to all sorts of information and visuals faster than ever before. Not only that, but when it comes to business, we will also only continue to break down walls that were once barriers, allowing us to create products in new ways and new forms in a more efficient manner.

Dive in; the alternate realities are available at your fingertips.

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