Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality

In the last year a mixture of reality and virtual objects became more popular. Especially the entertainment and simulator industry focuses on new technologies to experience more than the daily live. A new trend was born: augmented and virtual reality. But how can both trends in media be defined and how can these be used in future? In a group of three we analyzed this interesting topic and want to share our results with you. At first we give you a short definition of augmented reality and virtual reality.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality merges the real world with a computerbased fiction and can be experienced via a smartphone or a new hardware (glasses e.g. hololens). Augmented reality is used to enrich the reality with interesting content or special effects. While using Augmented reality technology the consumer is always in touch with the real environment. The new content is set into this environment.

The history of augmented reality is based on aerospace defense technology and special features or advertisement for tv sport events. Society came in touch with Augmented reality in 2016 and were able to use it every day, everywhere. The developers of a very popular game created a new version for mobile devices: Pokémon Go! People loved it and accepted immediately the software, because they knew the hardware (smartphones). After the huge hype stagnated the developers have to create new softwares. But now it is clear that people are ready to use augmented reality on their smartphones.

In 2014 a new hardware was launched: the idea was to produce glasses which merges the virtual world with the reality. The first headset was the google glass but this hardware never reached the official trading.The user is aware of his environment every time and gets further informations, applications and new objects via the glasses. Now Microsoft released a new headset for augmented Reality called microsoft hololens. It was announced in January 2015 and released in March 2016 for developers and commercial. The HoloLens is an independent computer equipment with multiple sensors. The system is smart and compatible with various applications. As an example you could play minecraft and build your own world in your living room.

microsoft hololens

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is the creation of a whole new world. While using the technology there is no connection to the real environment. A special hardware is necessary to use and experience virtual reality (headset e.g. Oculus/Samsung Gear).

There are two different technologies. On the one hand It is possible to experience Virtual reality with a glass that works together with a smartphone. This is a cheap version. On the other hand you have to use a Virtual reality glass like the oculus rift which has to be connected to a computer. These glasses are expensive but cause the best feeling of the virtual world. The viewer is able to move through the new environment.

There are various examples of headsets. The cheapest possibility is the Google cardboard. It is just a piece of paper and two lenses. User has to download an app and synchronize his android devices with a chip which is betted in the cardboard. But the Google Cardboard is just a short fun.

For a better experience with your smartphone you should use the Samsung Gear virtual reality. It is very comfortable to wear. So you can use it for a couple of hours (e.g. watch a movie). A disadvantage for all Apple-users: you can only use Samsung Gear with a Samsung smartphone. The one and only Virtual reality cinema in Amsterdam uses these headsets to produce an intensive feeling while watching movies. The Samsung Gear is powered by Oculus.

Samsung Gear VR

Oculus has also a headset especially for gamers. This is the Oculus Rift. Unlike the Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear the Oculus Rift has to be connected with a computer. As a result users have a lot of cables and need a very good computer. The experience is unbelievable realistic. A big competitor is the htc vive. While using the htc vive you can walk through the whole room. It is the only hardware that can track the user trough the whole room. This headset is just awesome but very expensive.

A cheap alternative is the Sony Playstation Virtual reality. You don’t need a special computer just the Playstation 4. Many people already have one. It is possible to play Virtual reality-games, non-Virtual reality-games or watch movies. This headset is for the players.


The development of technology causes an importance of augmented reality and virtual reality for daily live. Over the next five years the hardware market will grow and will be the leading market of virtual/augmented reality. On the one hand main parts for using virtual reality could be entertainment and simulations. On the other hand augmented reality could be used for communication, medical healthcare, education, marketing and more. You can say in the future the upper-class and middle-class will use a Augmented reality hardware like glasses and people with less money will use smartphones. People would use Augmented reality in everyday live and don’t think of it as we don’t think about using smartphones every time.

by Julia Bachert, Bettina Bähnsch, Edvin Ibrahimovic