Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Blog 4:

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) use a lot of the same technology to provide users with an enriched experience. These two realities differ, in that VR is a complete immersion in a digital world, while AR is a digital overlay onto the real world (Anon n.d.). Games such as Second Life demonstrate how computer technology can create a simulated, three-dimensional world allowing (Anon n.d.) users to explore this VR and become immersed in this alternate world as if it’s actually reality. What is interesting about AR is that you still see the real world but through the enhancement of a virtual layer, and thus I believe this creates a much more exciting environment than VR, where everything surrounding the user is fabricated by the system.


Virtual Reality: Flight Simulator
User completely sorrounded by invented virtual world

What I do find effective about VR’s are the functional and learning abilities they can provide. VR training such as flight simulators, have provided the basis of flight training for years by virtually recreating external environmental factors (turbulence, clouds, air density etc) and simulating control reaction to these elements through motion. Of course there is the gaming side to VR, where video games such as Microsoft Flight simulator and Nintendo Wii have provided the entertaining side to VR’s for years. Nevertheless, we can see VR’s have been vastly significant in training purposes (e.g. driving simulators) as well as for medical and scientific research for much time. An example of this includes anxiety therapy – a method often used by psychologists to treat phobias is to make patients face what causes their anxiety. In scenarios where psychologists are dealing with Iraq war soldiers, the only way to recreate war situations is by simulating them in VR’s (Goldmeier 2009).


Augmented Reality: Google Glass
Real world, Google Glass virtual overlay

As I mentioned previously, VR users enter a completely immersive world – everything that surrounds the user is fictitious. AR on the other hand combines the real world with digital information, and this is where I believe technology has the ability to blur the line between what is real and what is computer generated by enhancing our sensory experiences. Google Glass is a prime example of AR – you wear the glasses normally, but the lenses are able to display and bring up information in a fashion similar to a Smartphone (basically they are glasses with a computer inside of them). This of course has brought up privacy concerns, privacy analyst Sarah Downey (Annear 2012) has suggested the glasses “could turn anyone wearing them into walking surveillance camera without anyone else knowing”. I do believe privacy issues as such do become a problem, anyone wearing Google Glass could look you straight in the eye and just simply record or photo you without your knowledge (tip: red light means they’re recording). However, that is not to say that such AR doesn’t offer extraordinary advantages – such as eye view GPS or urban exploration (Drell 2012) – ever wanted to jump into a map and follow it? Google Glass is on it!

Similar to what I mentioned about VR’s, augmented technology also provides beneficial aid to enhancing medical and military cause. Drone technology, a small unmanned aerial vehicle used for military purposes (surveillance, bomb/threat detector etc) is just one example of the positive aspects augmented technology has to offer (Hennigan 2012). Prior to this week’s topics I had never heard of the term augmented reality, but had considered the idea of virtual objects merging into the real world. Through initiating some of my own research and in essence with the required readings I now understand this alternate reality and would be interested in a topic that is considered as creating an augmented reality for the final research assignment.


Annear, S 2012, ‘For Some, Google Glasses Raise Privacy Concerns’, Boston Magazine, 2 April, accessed 7 April 2012, <>.

Anon, n.d., Augmented Reality, Wikipedia, accessed 7 April 2012, <>.

Anon, n.d., Virtual Reality, Wikipedia, accessed 7 April 2012, <>.

Drell, L 2012, ‘7 Ways Augmented Reality Will Improve Your Life’, Mashable, December 20, accessed 7 April 2013, <>.

Flight Simulator, digital image, accessed 7 April,,or.r>.

Goldmeier, S 2009, ‘7 Virtual Reality Technologies That Actually Work’, Gawker Media, accessed 7 April 2013, <>.

Google Glass, digital image,  accessed 7 April 2012,,or.r>.

Google Glass User Perspective, digital image, accessed 7 April 2012,,or.r>.

Hennigan, W. J. 2012, ‘New drone has no pilot anywhere, so who’s accountable?’, Los Angeles Times, January 26, accessed 7 April 2013, <,0,740306.story>.

Project Glass: One day, 2012, online video, accessed 7 April 2012, <>.


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