Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are in the same vein when it comes to modern technology. Both deal with digital content relayed through an immersive environment or experience. The difference, however, is how encompassing that experience truly is.

With virtual reality, you don a headset that fully delves you into a new world or environment — some that even mimic the real world. You're given both a visual and audible experience that is meant to take you away from known reality.

Augmented reality is similar in concept, but it also displays digital content in the real world. Think Pokemon™ Go or IKEA®'s Place app, both of which allow you to interact with and experience digital objects.

Due to the nature of these two technologies, they are used in completely different situations. Augmented reality, for example, could be enabled through the use of eyeglasses or a simple display piece, changing the modern experience for construction workers, plant workers, delivery personnel, and much more. You wouldn't want workers in these industries to stumble around with a virtual reality headset on, however, because it would impede their movements and prevent them from interacting with the real world. Augmented reality devices, on the other hand, make this much more natural and seamless.

Why AR Will Disrupt Manufacturing

That brings us to the variety of uses for the technology in enterprise and business. In construction, for instance, workers could use AR wearables to measure various changes, identify unsafe working conditions, or even visualize a finished product or structure.

In manufacturing, the technology can be used in much the same way. The beauty of it is that you can use it to present more than digital characters, images, or content. You can also overlay text, stats, and information relevant to the worker's current task. Looking at a furnace or piece of equipment might show its current running temperature, revealing it as hot and unsafe to touch with your bare hands.

Just the concept of this tech sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, but this is the reality we live in. These devices will become more commonplace everywhere — not just in a single industry. Augmented reality glasses are forecasted to reach around 19.1 million units by 2021, and when combined with VR devices, could hit 59.2 million units.

AR can be used to present more than digital characters, images, or content. Text, stats, and information relevant to the worker's current task can be displayed. (Photo by Zapp2Photo/website)

Imagine knowing everything that's happening around you, including whereabouts of colleagues, what machinery is malfunctioning, or even what parts of a factory are off-limits. These are just a few things an AR device can tell you.

There's much more the tech can be used for. Here are some ways it can be leveraged in the manufacturing industry.