What is augmented reality? Here's what you need to know about the 3D technology

Published 07 December 2020, 08:47

Augmented reality, commonly called AR, is an interactive 3D experience that combines a view of the real world with computer-generated elements in real time.

What you need to know about augmented reality, or AR

Augmented reality can figure in a number of ways, such as through AR goggles that combine a view of the immediate surroundings with computer graphics, or on a smartphone display that does the same thing using the phone's camera to see and manipulate the world in front of the viewer.

How augmented reality differs from VR

They may seem like similar technologies - and certainly have similar abbreviations - but are fundamentally different. Virtual reality (VR) creates a completely synthetic virtual world within a headset. As the user, you are placed inside a 3D environment and can then move around and interact with completely computer-generated elements.

VR is completely synthetic, with no real-world elements. Adult Swim Games

AR, on the other hand, keeps you grounded in the real world, and it overlays virtual elements as a visual layer within that environment. Immersive AR systems may combine the computer elements with real-world elements with convincing depth, perspective, and other rendering characteristics, and the AR system will understand the real environment well enough to be able to position relevant synthetic elements "in front of" and "behind" real objects and otherwise be able to interact with the real world in a meaningful way.