Virtual Reality (often referred as VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR places the user inside and immersive experience instead of viewing a small screen in from of them. The users are immersed and able to interact with the 3D Worlds. By stimulating vision, hearing, touch and even sense of smell, the user is pulled into a computer generated world of technology. Virtual reality opens many doors to developing technology of the future.
If you want a slightly more detailed explanation, you can watch the following video from MKBHD.
There are many different types of machines that can create the virtual world such as, Oculus, HTC, Sony and many more. Each company has their own take on virtual reality to fit their customers. VR has many uses, not only to satisfy gamers who want the full experience but VR can be used in military training, sports practices, mental health therapy and many more.
Augmented Reality(AR) is an interactive experience os the real-world environment where objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information in other worlds, AR lets us see the real-life environment right in front of us, in our devices — trees swaying in the park, dogs chasing balls, kids playing soccer — with a digital augmentation overlaid on it. An example of AR is Pokemon Go: they use AR in their game to make the games experience better and more realistic.
Here is a video by Reality School that explains AR more in depth.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are two sides of the same coin. You could think of Augmented Reality as VR with one foot in the real world: Augmented Reality simulates artificial objects in the environment, whereas Virtual Reality created the entire environment and putting the user through the full experience.
In Virtual Reality, the computer uses sensors and math. The computer generates a virtual environment for the user to interact with. If the user’s head turns, the graph reacts accordingly.
In Augmented Reality, the computer uses mathematical algorithms and sensors to determine the position and orientation of a camera. AR technology then readers the 3D graphics as they would appear from the viewpoint of the camera, superimposing the computer-generated images over a user’s view of the real world.
Here is a video from Intellipaat describing differences in more details.
In summary virtual reality and augmented reality are different they each have their strengths and weaknesses, when virtual reality is putting the user through a piece of software in full, immersively, whereas augmented reality is less heavy but still useful enough that software and hardware are created for it.