Why I like Augmented Reality better than Virtual Reality

Posted by Gjermund Bjaanes on September 4, 2016

As the title of the post suggests, this is a very opinionated blog post.

I just wanted to share my opinion and view on Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

I wrote another article on AR use cases that might be of interest: Use Cases for Augmented Reality


Before starting, I want to clarify a couple of terms.

There are three terms which are important in this space.

Virtual Reality: As the name suggests, this means that your entire reality is virtual. You usually wear a helmet-like device on your head (or at least something over you eyes and ears) to replace the real reality.

Augmented Reality: Some people says this just means just some simple information overlaid on your vision. Like google glasses - just a hands free monitor basically. I personally think of it as something that adds to your reality.

Mixed Reality: This is a lot like Augmented Reality, but more lifelike. Things that are being mixed into your reality seems like they are part of the reality, not just laid on top of it.

For me, the difference between augmented reality and mixed reality is a small one. I don’t see the need for the distinction between them. I like the term augmented reality better anyway, because it works for both cases and is more specific. Whenever you add something to your reality, you are augmenting it.

And just to be clear. When I say Augmented Reality, I definitely don’t mean holding up my phone or tablet to see some augmented reality through a tiny screen. I mean with glasses or contacts or whatever. It’s a bit further off, but Microsofts HoloLens seems to be getting somewhere quickly.

With that out of the way, I will continue saying Augmented Reality, when I in reality mean both Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality. I’ll also shorten all the terms to AR, MR and VR.

I recently wrote a post about AR glasses in 2017, so if you are interested in what products are available for AR today, have a look: Overview of Augmented Reality Glasses in 2017

To get us started, a quick video that demonstrates some potential AR power:


What I don’t like about VR

A natural starting point seems to be what I don’t appreciate about VR.

The biggest problem I have with VR, is that it removes you completely from the actual reality. When in VR, you are not in reality. I like being in reality, I don’t want to escape it all the time. I might want to escape it now and then with a game or a movie perhaps, and then VR might just be a good fit.

Because I do think reality is important. I think we benefit from being it. I think it’s important to be present.

Another thing I don’t like about VR is that fact I seem to get nauseated whenever I use one for a prolonged time. I assume this is a technical challenge that will be fixed over time, but it’s annoying right now.


My opinion on VR is not a frozen view. Views never should be. Just like everything, they are in a constant flux. When the circumstances change, so will the views, I’m sure. This is my current view from a todays perspective.


What VR is good for now

I think VR could be a very good tool for gaming and other immersive experiences. It already is, or is at least becoming it rapidly.

I’m sure it’s also great for military training, or training in general. Any training where you might benefit from creating a totally different reality where different scenarios can be played out easily.

I’m sure there are many other great applications for VR, but I believe many of them might be just as good, or better with AR.


Why I like AR better than VR

I have explained what I don’t like about VR, which in part describes what I love about AR. It’s the opposite of those shortcomings.

AR is rooted in the real world. It adds value to our current reality. It can add value in real situations in a way that I don’t think VR can, or least not to the same degree.

Just think about it, what if you could have as many, or as big monitors you only wanted, placed anywhere, anytime?

What if you could interact with the internet and all its application by simply making it appear in front of you?

What if you could interact with ideas, prototypes, people, anything without it physically having to be there?

I think something like “holoportation” could be an amazing way to hold meetings or do real-time collaboration with people all around the globe.

There are a ton of amazing things you could imagine with proper AR, and I’m just more exited by that, than by VR.

Use cases

I mentioned it in the beginning as well, but if you are interested in what you can do with AR, check out this post too: Use Cases for Augmented Reality

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