Augmented Reality Versus Virtual Reality—Which Is Best for You?

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). While many are familiar with virtual reality from recreational pursuits like video games, augmented reality is less familiar. Understandably, many believe they are two ways of labeling the same technology. In fact, virtual reality and augmented reality are similar but distinct in important ways and have unique advantages for different tasks when it comes to workplace training.

So, what is the key difference between AR and VR? Let’s turn to the technology gurus at Popular Mechanics for a definition of each:
“To experience AUGMENTED REALITY, you look through a device screen or put on a headset and a virtual image is laid over the room you’re in. You can see what’s around you, but part of it is blocked out by whatever video projection is playing on your headset.”
“To experience VIRTUAL REALITY, you put on a headset and your entire environment is replaced by whatever the headset is projecting. You can’t see the room you’re in. Suddenly, whether you look up or down or side to side, you’re on a roller coaster, or at the beach, or at a Paul McCartney concert.”
In other words, the difference between AR and VR is a matter of degree: partial simulation or near-complete simulation of the environment around you. The distinction is important for the use of AR versus VR in training situations. Some training scenarios may be possible and realistic with only minor changes in what the trainee is presented as reality, whereas others may require a far more elaborate simulation in order to provide a realistic and meaningful training scenario.
A customer service employee, for example, might benefit from a simulated interaction with customer characters, or situations, that they interact with in an augmented reality setting. A firefighter or healthcare professional, on the other hand, would likely benefit from feeling as though he or she is literally taking part in fighting a fire or performing a medical procedure.
What role are—or could—AR and VP playing as part of your training efforts?