The Difference Between Augmented and Virtual Reality

“Virtual Reality” and “Augmented Reality” are two terms we hear quite often nowadays, thanks to the recent surge in consumer VR headset purchases and the popularity of AR apps like Pokemon Go. Unfortunately, the two are often wrongly interpreted as being the same thing.

While both AR and VR are technologies both change the way we look at and experience the world around us, they are in fact two very different technologies with distinguishable features. In this post, we’ll be defining these life-changing technologies and explaining how they differ from each other. 

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality serves to “enhance” the world around us by leveraging existing technologies like the cameras and sensors on our smartphones. In this way, AR apps are able to add digital layers over what we see on our screen, essentially “augmenting” the content and allowing us to experience it in a nonconventional manner.

Most AR content available to the average person is still entertainment-based, however, the technology is opening the doors to groundbreaking developments in fields such as medicine and navigation; where augmented reality medical diagnostics and AR wayfinding have already made waves among the respective communities. Nevertheless, it’s rapidly becoming a mainstream technology and is on the right track to playing an even bigger role in our future everyday lives.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is the use of computer-generated worlds to make users feel as if they’re actually in the simulated world. Contrary to AR, virtual reality requires dedicated devices to be worn by users, typically headsets, and it relies on multi-sensory experiences to completely immerse users into the virtual world.

Similar to AR, virtual reality’s surge in popularity over the last decade can be attributed to new developments in VR for entertainment. However, the buzz around VR games and apps has somewhat since died down, though the constant emergence of new virtual reality agencies in the UK and the world over tells us that the tech itself is far from forgotten. There are still plenty of uses for VR including in marketing, medicine, education, training, and practically anything else that benefits from a simulated, 360-degree environment.

How are Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Different?

Even though both technologies are often used together – such as haptic feedback (AR) used in a VR experience to engage a user’s sense of touch for a more comprehensive and immersive experience – the technologies are inherently different and shouldn’t be confused with one another. Below are two main differences between virtual reality and augmented reality.


While augmented reality is primarily used to enhance the physical world around us by adding digital layers over existing objects, virtual reality agencies use VR to create entirely different, computer-generated worlds. Check out our work with the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority and Conrad Maldives to see firsthand how the technologies differ from each other.


One of the more distinguishable differences between augmented reality and virtual reality is the method in which content is delivered. Modern applications of AR involve the use of some type of device, be it a smartphone, laptop, or projector, to layer digital content over physical objects. On the other hand, VR is almost exclusively delivered through some form of mounted controller, through which a user can experience simulated worlds and scenarios.  Now that you’ve learned the basics of the differences between these revolutionary technologies, you’ll hopefully be able to make a more educated decision when deciding which one is right for your brand. Connect with Untitled Project today to find out more about working with the UK’s leading augmented and virtual reality agency.