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Tencent RTC Blog
Tencent RTC Blog

AR vs VR: What's the Difference?

Tencent RTC - Dev Team

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Nowadays augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) stand out as transformative technologies that enhance how we perceive and interact with our environment. AR integrates digital elements into the real world in real-time, blurring the lines between what's real and what's computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, and feel. Meanwhile, VR immerses users completely in a simulated environment, offering a digital experience that can replicate or completely change the physical world.

If you want to know more about what is AR vs VR and understand how they differ, this guide is for you. We'll break down their basic concepts, and discuss their difference and distinct applications. Keep reading to discover how these technologies can transform industries and everyday experiences.

What Is AR?

Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that adds computer-generated additions to an existing reality, making it more relevant by allowing users to interact with it. AR is created into apps and utilized on mobile devices to integrate digital components into the actual environment in such a way that they complement each other while still being easily recognized. This technology is routinely used in various applications, ranging from public safety and healthcare to entertainment and gaming, enhancing both the perception of the real world and interactions within it.

What Is VR?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that creates a digital environment where users can interact as if they are in the real world. VR uses headsets or special rooms equipped with advanced sensors. When you wear a VR headset, it shows you a computer-generated world full of images and sounds. This setup lets you look around, move, and interact with the virtual space using controllers. VR is popular for gaming, training, and education because it allows a full immersion experience that makes you feel like you're somewhere else.

Differences Between AR and VR

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are transforming how we interact with the digital world, yet they do so in distinctly different ways. This section explores major differences between AR and VR.

Interaction with the Real World

One of the main differences between VR vs AR is how they interact with reality. AR enhances the real world by superimposing digital information directly onto the user’s view of their environment, allowing for interaction with both real and virtual elements. In contrast, VR creates a completely virtual environment that isolates the user from the real world, providing an immersive experience that entirely replaces the user's physical surroundings.

Types of AR vs. VR

In terms of types, Augmented Reality (AR) primarily comes in two forms: Marker-Based and Marker-Less. Marker-Based AR uses visual cues within the environment to overlay digital content, making it useful for targeted applications like advertising or educational tools. Marker-Less AR, on the other hand, relies on positional data from device sensors to display digital elements, offering more flexibility in everyday applications like navigation and interior design.

Virtual Reality (VR) can be categorized into Non-immersive, Semi-immersive, and Fully-immersive, each offering different levels of detachment from reality. Non-immersive VR keeps users aware of their physical surroundings, while Semi-immersive provides partial immersion for training purposes, and Fully-immersive VR completely isolates the user from the real world, ideal for deep training and gaming experiences.

Hardware Requirements

AR and VR also differ significantly in their hardware requirements. AR can be experienced with more simple devices such as smartphones or AR glasses that use the existing environment and overlay digital information. VR, however, requires more complex headsets like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which are equipped with built-in screens and motion tracking technology to create a fully immersive experience.

Applications of AR and VR

AR vs VR differences decide that they have different features and will be applied to different aspects of applications. Let’s look at some common applications:

1. Education:

  • AR: Enhances learning by bringing abstract concepts to life through interactive 3D models.
  • VR: Provides immersive learning environments, like virtual field trips and complex scientific simulations.

2. Healthcare:

  • AR: Assists in complex surgical procedures by overlaying crucial information directly into the surgeon’s field of view.
  • VR: Used for therapy and rehabilitation, offering controlled environments for patient recovery and training.

3. Retail:

  • AR: Allows customers to try on clothes or view furniture in their home before buying through augmented reality apps.
  • VR: Creates immersive shopping experiences, such as virtual stores where customers can browse and purchase goods as if in a physical store.

4. Real Estate:

  • AR: Helps potential buyers visualize properties through virtual staging, seeing homes with furniture and decor.
  • VR: Offers virtual tours of properties, allowing buyers to explore homes remotely.

5. Gaming:

  • AR: Adds layers of interaction to the real world, such as in games like Pokémon Go where players catch virtual creatures in real locations.
  • VR: Provides completely immersive gaming experiences, where players interact with the game environment in a life-like manner.



This article has delved into the distinct worlds of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), examining from what is AR vs VR to their differences and applications. The knowledge not only enriches your understanding but also equips you to apply these technologies effectively, potentially transforming your professional practices or personal experiences into more engaging and efficient activities. Whether for enhancing learning environments, improving medical training, or revolutionizing customer experiences, AR and VR hold the key to innovative solutions across industries.

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How Do AR and VR Technologies Differ in Their Use Cases?

Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information onto the real world, enhancing the user's perception of reality. It is commonly used in applications like gaming, retail, navigation, and training simulations. Virtual Reality (VR), on the other hand, immerses users in a completely virtual environment, blocking out the real world. It finds applications in entertainment, education, therapy, and training where users need to experience situations that are not feasible in the real world.

Can AR and VR Be Used Together in the Same Application?

Yes, AR and VR can complement each other in the same application. This integration is known as Mixed Reality (MR), where virtual elements interact with the real world. For instance, a training simulation might use VR to immerse users in a virtual environment while employing AR to overlay real-time data or instructions onto objects within that environment. This combination enhances the user experience and expands the possibilities for various applications.

Beauty AR