What's the Difference Between AR, VR, and MR?

What's the Difference Between AR, VR, and MR?

Jitha Sanal
Sep 14, 2022 7:49:20 AM

To summarize a long story briefly, here’s the difference between virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies:

Virtual Reality Augmented Reality Mixed Reality
Virtual reality (VR) fascinates users in a completely artificial digital environment. Augmented reality (AR) superimposes virtual objects on the real-world environment. Mixed reality (MR) not just overlays but also anchors virtual objects to the real world.
Display Devices
Special Headsets or smart glasses Headsets optional- can include holo-displays and other Tech Headsets optional- can include holo-displays and other Tech
Image Source
Computer graphics or real images produced by a computer Combination of computer-generated images and real-life objects Combination of computer-generated images and real-life objects
A perfectly rendered virtual object can be distinguished from the real deal Virtual objects can be identified based on their nature and behaviour, such as floating text that follows a user. A perfectly rendered virtual object can be distinguished from the real deal
Virtual objects will change their position and size according to users perspective in the virtual world Virtual objects behave  based on the user’s perspective in the real world Virtual objects behave  based on the user’s perspective in the real world
Fully Digital Both viral and real-life objects are seamlessly blended Both virtal and real-life objects are seamlessly blended
The feeling of being transported to somewhere else with no sense of the real world Feeling of still being in the real world, but with new elements and objects superimposed Feeling of still being in the real world, but with new elements and objects superimposed

Not clear? Let’s go deeper into details.

Virtual Reality

As the name implies, you can simply tell what the VR technology does. It totally immerses you deep into the virtual world. The technology creates a virtual environment through which you can interact with. You become a part of this environment and you can migrate around in it. VR is a perceptive technology that has an impression on at least two of the five senses. These are vision and sound. The technology generates a strong understanding of being in a completely different place even when in the physical sense you are not there.

This technology immerses users in a totally virtual environment that is generated by a computer. The most high-level VR experiences also afford freedom of mobility, users can go in a digital environment and listen to sounds. Besides, unique hand controllers can be utilized to intensify VR experiences.

How is the VR achieved? You require to wear a special VR headset to experience virtual reality. Most VR headsets are connected to a computer or a gaming console (PlayStation VR) that is responsible for generating the virtual environment. however, there are standalone devices (like Google Cardboard) as well. Most standalone VR headsets operate along with smartphones. Insert a smartphone, use a headset, and immerse in the virtual reality.

Although the headset is the fundamental hardware for a VR setup, more input devices can be combined to immerse a user deeper into the virtual world. For instance, it can be intensified with motion trackers, haptic devices and treadmills. The VR headset is outlined to look like some sort of goggles. It holds a set of a lens which is specifically aligned to provide a 3D effect. There are some specialized software and sensors that are efficient for creating an intuitive virtual environment.

The most unique aspect about VR technology is it delivers high levels of immersion. There is some feeling of realism in the form that you interact with the new environment.

Virtual Reality technology is massively used in the entertainment world. For instance, it is applied in video games to improve the gaming experience. The technology also enhances the movie-watching adventure whereby it brings the virtual theatre. VR is already practiced in medical, military and business worlds.

Augmented Reality

As VR technology, Augmented Reality does not take you to the virtual world. It simply enhances things in your current world by superimposing virtual pictures into it. In mere terms, AR puts virtual objects into an environment that exists in the real world. For example, the technology makes it feasible to view a book on your table through your phone. The best popular application of AR technology is PokemonGo.

One of the essential features that address AR completely different from VR is it combines the real world objects and those that have been generated by the computer. For this purpose, it does not provide a totally immersive experience. This is unlike the VR technology that imitates the environment.

In augmented reality, users perceive and interact with the real world while digital content is appended to it. If this seems unclear think of Pokemon Go – millions of people across the world have been rushing with their smartphones in the hunt for small virtual creatures. That’s the most definite example of augmented reality.

Another outstanding feature of AR technology is the kind of hardware used. Unlike VR which heavily relies on a set of unique external hardware, AR can be accomplished without any external devices. Your smartphone is robust enough to deliver this technology. However, this doesn’t mean that an external device cannot be used. There are special headsets for AR yet they are somewhat different from the ones for VR. For AR the headset requires to be transparent unlike for VR the headsets are opaque.

How is the AR achieved? you merely require a smartphone and an AR application. The camera of your smartphone should possess the capacity to capture the real environment around you. On the other hand, the software or app will project and estimate computer-generated things.

One exemplary example of AR wearable product is Google Glass. It is outlined to deliver a digital overlay right in front of the users. Virtual Reality has diverse applications. In the medical world, it is applied to connect surgeons with each other, particularly while they are performing the same surgery. Engineers use this technology to build schematics. AR can also be applied to generate interactive input options which can take the place of a conventional keyboard.

Mixed Reality

people usually confuse MR and VR. This is mainly because both of them are observed as crossover technologies. In reality, there exists a thin borderline separating AR and MR. In case, Mixed Reality serves to combine the best features of virtual reality and those of augmented reality.

Mixed reality combines both aspects of the virtual world with those of the real world. It allows users to communicate with the two worlds. Unlike the AR, virtual objects in the MR are not merely overlaid. In fact, you can interact with them completely. This is the foremost feature that differentiates MR from AR. On the other hand, a user persists in a real-world environment. This makes the technology to be distinctive from the VR.

Mixed Reality begins with the real world. As time passes by, the digital elements are introduced into this world and a user is immersed in a virtual environment. Sounds like a VR, right? In MR, there is a close connection connecting the real world and the virtual environment. This is unlike in VR where the two are not connected.

Most people view MR as an enhancement of the AR. It combines some perception of immersion to the AR. There still ongoing research on MR technology. One of the popular devices is the HoloLens from Microsoft.


As you can perceive, VR vs AR vs MR technologies are quite complex and distinct from each other but they instantly gain the market and attract the attention of businessmen. These technologies will enable brands and sponsors to draw the attention of consumers. Thanks to immersion in virtual environments, users can experience amazingly strong emotions. If you know how to present these sensations to your audience, you can enhance the recognition of your brand.

 Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality are new technologies that are transforming the way we observe things. Despite their diversity, all of them are applied to achieve their special purposes.


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