Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are increasingly being used to improve overall event experiences around the world. Therefore, knowing the differences between the two is essential for the future of event management as more and more event agencies incorporate these technologies into their events.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is technology that layers computer generated elements on top of existing realities which enables users to interact with virtual content in real-world settings and clearly distinguish between the two.
AR can be used for entertainment, like in the gaming phenomenon Pokémon GO, or to find useful information just like in the app Layar where users can find nearby ATMs, restaurants, see real estate for sale, and more. Pepsi took AR a step further and incorporated the technology into their Pepsi Max #LiveForNow marketing campaign with the incredibly amusing monster mirror and the awe-inspiring bus stop prank in London.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is all about creating a virtual world that users can interact with. VR involves an artificial, computer-generated simulation of a real life environment designed in such a way that users would find it difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is not.
Furthermore, virtual reality is usually experienced through a special VR viewer, such as the Oculus Rift, or goggles that are connected via an app on your phone like Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR. Check out how Chab Events Paris treated BNP Paribas employees to a VR obstacle course earlier this year.
Similarities & Differences
Both virtual reality and augmented reality leverage similar technologies and share the same goal of immersing the user, though both systems do so in different ways.
Augmented reality enhances experiences by adding virtual components such as digital images or graphics as a new layer of interaction with the real world. Contrastingly, virtual reality creates its own separate reality that is entirely computer generated.
Virtual Reality is usually delivered through a head-mounted, or hand-held controller. This equipment connects users to the virtual environment and allows them to control and navigate their way through an alternate reality while being isolated from the real world.
With augmented reality, on the other hand, users continue to be in touch with the real world while interacting with virtual objects around them.
Which is better?
While virtual reality is far more immersive, augmented reality provides much more freedom to users, and more possibilities for marketers because it is not limited to a head-mounted display. Currently, AR seems to be better equipped to fulfil the social needs of humans as well, largely because it is augmenting our current world instead of trying to replace it altogether. This also explains Facebook’s efforts to make VR more social with their Spaces app where users get to hang out with their friends in virtual settings.
Despite their similarities, however, both AR and VR differ enough to shine in their own separate functions. Augmented reality has the potential to be used as everyday assistance to help people make better decisions about food, transportation, and other daily activities. While virtual reality could turn into a fully immersive entertainment activity, whether it be gaming or experiencing great storytelling.
Go ahead and share with us your best VR/AR experiences and your opinions on which you prefer and why!