Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality: Now You Know

11 Jan 2022
5 min read

The metaverse has limitless offerings: cryptocurrency, mixed reality, extended reality, and more. However, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are two of the most valuable and fun.

Whether playing your favorite game or making valuable medical advances, AR and VR can do it all.

If you’re interested in learning more about this part of the metaverse and taking the magic leap into new realities, keep reading as we give you the need-to-know of all things AR and VR.

Augmented Reality: The Rundown

What Is Augmented Reality?

AR technology is a bridge from the physical world to the digital one. It allows users to enhance the physical reality in front of them by superimposing digital 3D stimuli onto physical environments.

If you’ve ever played Pokémon GO or tried on your favorite makeup shade at home with just your phone camera, then you’ve used augmented reality.

How Does AR Work?

Augmented reality technology has a unique design that makes it function.

Check out this step-by-step breakdown:

  1. AR-enabled devices, like smart glasses or a camera lens, identify the object in front of it
  2. AR device creates a digital twin, which is an exact digital 3D model of the intended physical object
  3. The software checks physical objects and virtual objects for compatibility
  4. Compatibility calculation completes, and AR devices create a digital overlay on the physical world
  5. Control is given back over to the AR user
  6. Technology responds to user commands, and the AR experience begins!

Types of AR

Marker-Based AR

This type of AR technology requires a marker to function. It needs a specific object to focus on and recognize before a digital overlay can be produced.

Markerless AR

This advanced AR technology does not need a marker to work. It can superimpose digital content overlays onto real-world environments in real-time with no marker.

Location-Based AR

This is another type of markerless augmented reality. Location-based AR uses geolocation to create its digital overlays. This AR provides a lot of freedom to its users because it works in all environments.

Projection-Based AR

Projection-based AR is possibly the most sci-fi of them all — but it’s real! It works by using light as it projects onto physical surfaces. The light projections create holograms that users can interact with.

Virtual Reality: The Rundown

We’ve covered the basics of AR, so let’s get into virtual reality.

What Is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality is an immersive, digital experience. Using some wearable, such as goggles or a headset, it transports its users from the real world to the virtual one. There are endless options and worlds for VR, so there is something for everyone.

How Does VR Work?

Virtual reality requires a headset to be transported into a new reality.

As humans, our normal vision of what we see is called our natural field of view (FOV). However, when you put on a VR headset, you allow a computer-generated field of view to take over.

A VR headset has several components that make the experience possible:

  • Screens
  • Cameras
  • Motion sensors
  • Infrared LEDs

All of these assets work together to create a new virtual ecosystem.

The motion sensors enable users to move and interact with virtual characters and environments in a 360° space.

Types of Virtual Reality

When it comes to alternate realities, there is a term called the “virtuality continuum,” which is the spectrum that shows how close an experience is to real life or the digital world. Different types of reality are placed in other places of the continuum.


Non-immersive virtual reality is pretty close to the physical world. During this experience, you can interact with virtual worlds through computer-generated simulations, like car games or combat training. Because VR users do this through computer vision rather than a headset, it is considered non-immersive.


This experience slides farther away from the physical world. Semi-immersive technology generally uses a more immersive environment simulation, but users are still without headsets. Like AR, semi-immersive VR uses overlays to superimpose digital elements on environments, but it is much more interactive than AR.

Fully Immersive

Fully-immersive virtual reality is an immersive experience that lives entirely in the digital world. Users experience 360° sensory stimulation with the help of wearables. This immersive and interactive experience allows users to become completely engrossed in whatever digital reality they want.

Uses for AR vs. VR

These two technologies are different, so they both have their unique uses. They provide more opportunities than gaming, so look below at some uses that may surprise you.

Uses for Augmented Reality

One of the most incredible things about AR is that it is highly accessible. All you need to use is a mobile phone screen or an AR-enabled camera.

Check out these 11 AR uses:

  1. Video games
  2. Virtual Try-Ons for the retail industry
  3. Remote consulting
  4. Healthcare education
  5. Military training
  6. Marketing
  7. Travel
  8. Apps for K-12 education
  9. Corporate onboarding and training
  10. Merchandising and inventory
  11. Social media

Uses for Virtual Reality

Truly immersive virtual reality is a bit harder to come by because of its need for wearables. However, there is more than one type of VR, and each type provides many options.

Check out these 11 uses for VR:

  1. Video games
  2. Training and onboarding in various industries
  3. Virtual work meetings
  4. Sports, entertainment, exercise
  5. Socialization
  6. Education in multiple industries
  7. Real estate
  8. Retail
  9. Medical and military training
  10. Music events
  11. Travel

The Best of AR and VR

Now that you’ve got the basics of each technology let’s talk about the best of each.

Best AR Applications

Because AR is so accessible, it's apps that anyone with a mobile device can use. Keep reading for our three favorite AR apps.

1. IKEA Place

Redecorating your home has never been easier. IKEA Place enables users to choose any IKEA furniture and preview it in their homes.

Just point your smartphone or computer camera at your room of choice, choose the furniture you’re considering, and see what it looks like in real-time as IKEA Place superimposes the 3D image right in front of your eyes.

2. Zappar

This company offers end-to-end solutions using AR. This could be a great resource if you want to take your business into the digital world.

They offer training and services for:

  • Retail
  • Packaging
  • Marketing
  • Events, tours, attractions
  • Learning and development

3. Photomath

Photomath is an incredible resource for learning enrichment. Although students spend hours in the classroom, they still have to do homework at home. Photomath is an online tool that walks students through problems step-by-step using an AR optical character recognition system.

Best VR Wearables

If you’re ready to dive headfirst into the digital world, it’s time to start researching VR wearables. These devices can be headsets, smart glasses, or head-mounted displays.

The biggest companies, like Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Meta, are all trying their hand at wearables. However, some devices stand out in the crowd.

Here are our three favorite VR devices:

1. Microsoft Hololens 2

This headset device is both wireless and holographic. It uses optics and sensors to process and integrate whatever environment you want to experience. The Microsoft Hololens will cost you a pretty penny, but the possibilities are endless once it's yours.

2. Metaquest 2

This is a standalone VR headset that is completely portable and wireless. It has built-in sensors and touch controllers that track all of your movements. A valuable accessory for this device is the Oculus Link Cable which will allow you to access many games and go even deeper into the metaverse.

3. HTC Vive Pro 2

The HTC Vive Pro 2 is pricey, and you’ll need a fast gaming computer with extensive bandwidth to make the most of it. However, if you’re serious about AR, this is one of the best devices on the market. Its sharp images, detailed motions, and freedom of movement set it apart from other AR options.

The Breakdown

AR and VR are windows into another universe — the digital universe. With their unique offerings, there is something for everyone in augmented and virtual reality.

The great thing about the virtuality continuum is that you can choose exactly where you want to land on any given day. AR allows you to stay in the physical world with a splash of digital. VR can transport you altogether.

Didn’t know there were so many accessible possibilities to the metaverse? Now you know.

If you're interested in learning more about AR technologies, check out the rest of our site.

Here at Illumix, we specialize in building dynamic AR experiences that can enhance your brand. We've done the heavy lifting already. Contact us to learn how we can help.

We know you're ready for the change, so upgrade your store with augmented reality today.


How Does Augmented Reality Really Work? ⎸ Harvard Business Review

What Is Virtual Reality? Types, Benefits, and Real-World Examples ⎸ G2

16 Virtual Reality Applications That Will Be Big In The Months Ahead ⎸ Forbes

The 2 Best VR Headsets for 2022 | New York Times

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