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What is augmented reality (AR) and how is it different from virtual reality (VR)?

Hello! Today we will talk about such an interesting novelty in the world of modern technologies as augmented reality. From the article you will learn about the history of the phenomenon. We will tell you how it differs from virtual and talk about the scope and prospects for innovation.

Introduction to the topic

The rapidly developing world of technological innovations presents the user with another promising invention that promises to turn the perception of reality and interaction with it. Augmented reality is a consequence of adding new information and virtual objects to the reality around us.

What is this technology

Augmented reality – in other words – “mixed reality”.

The essence of the technology is to introduce elements of computer graphics and sound into the human perception of the real world using various sensory devices: special glasses and helmets, even a regular iPhone.

A simple example is a picture, a 3D model or an inscription visible on the screen of a mobile device when the camera focuses on a special mark. It is often possible to interact with such elements. The label can be an image or an object.

Brief history of appearance

The term itself first appeared in 1990, and already in 1997 it was defined as a system capable of combining elements of the virtual and real, working in real time and 3D space.

However, four decades before the technology got its name, there was already a patent for “Sensorama” – a virtual game that had no analogues in the world. It was also based on the technologies of AR. In 1974, an “artificial reality” lab called Videoplace appeared.

The first example of real AR is a system used by the US military, which is based on the combination of virtual objects with the display of reality on a monitor.

Principle of operation

The principle of operation is that with the help of a special device, graphic elements are superimposed on real ones, and in addition to the image we are used to, objects created by a computer become visible, which can respond to movement, sound and touch.

Differences from virtual reality

The main difference between AR and virtual reality is that VR completely replaces the reality around the user. Wearing a virtual reality helmet, we see a picture entirely composed of computer graphics. VR requires more immersion, so it costs more.

Where can you use AR technology

The technology is used in many areas: from games for children to medicine. Initially, it was an unusual element of applications, but now AR is predicted to have a great future as an indispensable tool. In cinematography and animation, it is not uncommon to find a combination of a real captured image with computer graphics.


Not only computer games have become an area in which EIR is applied. It helps surgeons to remove tumors without significant losses, projecting the location of the affected tissue area onto the organ, and pilots to control aircraft using indicators.

In education, it is used to create 3D projections of books, which allows you to study them more visually. Often, AR is also used in advertising in order to create the so-called WOW effect.

The technology is also used by the military, whose devices are based on the use of this invention. In sports broadcasts, AR elements are used when a trajectory line that does not exist in reality is visible on the screen along which the ball or puck moves.

Advantages and disadvantages

Of course, the new technology has both advantages and disadvantages. Among the first is that AR makes everyday things more convenient. To select a hairstyle and outfit, you just need to use the application on your phone, the arrow will indicate the route on the map.

Among the disadvantages is that using AR apps requires special devices, which are often too bulky to not get tired of them. In addition, the interaction with mixed reality quickly tires the user with an additional load on their eyesight. High cost can also be attributed to the disadvantages.

Examples of devices and systems with AR

In the printing industry in the West, this innovation has also already become widespread. By scanning special codes with smartphones, users can see an animation or a simple image, watch a video or hear a voice message.

For the military, the United States has developed a display in the form of a visor, which displays the indicators of important instruments. It allows you to always have the necessary data in front of your eyes.

It is impossible to create a device for AR with your own hands, but with the help of a smartphone you can see the effect of this technology, using, for example, special tags. This makes Augmented reality more accessible.

Is there a future for augmented reality?

Despite the difficulties that innovation encounters on its way, we can definitely say that it has a great future in the 21st century. There are already a lot of AR applications, over the years there has been an improvement in devices, and developers are thinking about how to make the technology available to more people around the world.


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