Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality: what they are and what is the difference

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are often used to mean the same thing, but – spoilers – they are not at all.


Virtual Reality (Virtual Reality or VR) was born in the United States around the end of the 1960s. The idea behind it was and is that of being able to recreate, thanks to computer technologies and specially developed interfaces, a situation that is as realistic as possible.

To immerse users in this type of fully digital interactive reality, it is necessary to resort to devices and peripherals equipped with sensors such as viewers – which can be simple glasses or real virtual helmets – gloves that eliminate the need for keyboards. o joystick in hand and earphones for audio.

In this case we are talking about immersive virtual reality, that is, the user is totally isolated from the external environment and is absorbed by a parallel reality.

Typical areas of application are entertainment and gaming but nowadays, also due to the experiential direction that the world market is taking, they are expanding.


However, there is also a non-immersive virtual reality, which instead consists of a digitally recreated environment in which the user does not use VR devices but is simply in front of a device (which could simply be their smartphone) that acts as a window on a surrounding world partially altered by three-dimensional objects or video and audio experiences of various kinds.

What you see, therefore, is partly real and partly digital, according to the overlay principle: the camera reads the object in the frame, the system recognizes it and activates a new level of communication that overlaps and integrate perfectly with reality, enhancing the amount of detail data in relation to that object.



In conclusion, the main difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality lies in the methods of use: while the former creates a totally digital environment which can be accessed exclusively through the use of viewers or helmets, the latter does not require ad hoc devices (just a smartphone and a stable connection) and is based on the real world, complementing it with virtual images that enhance or increase the experience, without affecting the possibilities of interaction.