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There was a time not long ago that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) were the things of science fiction. Now, though, advancements are made in these technologies every day. As AR and VR become more integrated into things like video games, movies, and education, it’ll be more important than ever to know the differences between them. So here’s a brief rundown of each technology and what their differences are!

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is technology that overlays digital elements into the real world. A lot of people first became familiar with it through games like Pokemon Go, a mobile phenomenon that had people of all ages running around catching digital creatures superimposed onto the real world. But AR isn’t just for games. Companies making automated cars are looking to install AR heads-up displays on windshields (some cars already come with this feature), and education technology is allowing everyone from school children to mechanics to experience the world in new ways.

The key difference here is the real-world component. All AR tech requires some facet of the real world (usually through a camera) in order to function properly.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality takes the reality shift into entirely new dimensions. Literally. It works by transposing the user into a completely new world. Films like TRON or Ready Player One are great examples of this. VR technology is allowing people to visit totally digital frontiers and explore unique spaces as if they were really there. In some cases, this technology is all about putting the user in a brand-new space, allowing them to explore the scenery or interact with the environment. In other cases, this technology allows you to take virtual tours of places that already exist, which helps in shopping for a new house, for example.

The major difference with virtual reality is the entirely digital component. Some of the environments in virtual reality might be based on real places, but the space is fully digital. It’s supposed to feel like you’re “really there.”

Augmented and virtual realities might have some differences, but they share a key similarity: both of them are going to totally reshape the way we utilize the digital space in the future.