Virtual reality is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real environment. The user feels as though they are experiencing the simulation firsthand by having their vision and hearing stimulated. It’s often used for gaming and also for creating training simulations for people such as pilots.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, layers a computer-generated image or scenario on top of reality to make it more meaningful. Examples of this are historic street views overlaid onto the camera on a smartphone so that you can see what an area used to look like as you walk around it.
Augmented reality and virtual reality are opposites of one another in terms of what they seek to accomplish and deliver for the user. Virtual reality offers a digital recreation of a real, or fantasy, life setting, while augmented reality delivers virtual elements as an overlay to the real world.
Virtual Reality software and devices have been around for some time, but are now becoming much more affordable. There are many new items on the market, including headsets that you just fit your smartphone into and, together with an app, delivers virtual reality to anyone.
Augmented reality apps for smartphones are becoming readily available as well as more sophisticated application in television and other devices.
In our next article we will be looking at specific applications of VR and AR for the construction industry.
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