Go to any educational technology conference or ed tech blog today and you are bound to encounter augmented reality and virtual reality products. They’re the hot topics of the day in the educational technology industry. Every week I answer questions from readers about AR and VR. One of the patterns I’ve discerned from answering those questions is that a lot of people aren’t clear on what AR and VR really are what is different about the two technologies. Here’s a concise overview of AR and VR.
What is Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) displays digital content (video, picture, animation) in a physical world. This is digital content is typically displayed on your mobile phone or internet-connected tablet. The display of digital content is often triggered by location. Pokemon Go is a mainstream example of augmented reality displays triggered by location.
The other way the display of digital content can be triggered is by focusing the camera of your phone or tablet on an object. You’ll find examples of this in children’s books that have companion AR apps. Kids can read the book and scan the book’s pages with a companion app to see digital content.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a digital experience is typically displayed inside a virtual reality headset or viewer like Google Cardboard. The digital content that you see is not dependent on your current physical location, but it does require that you have a VR viewer. Fortunately, VR viewers are inexpensive. You can get ones that are suitable for classroom use for under ten dollars on Amazon and many other retailers. You can even make your own VR headset. A quick search on YouTube for “DIY Virtual Reality Headset” will lead you to lots of videos on how to make your own VR headset.