What is this alphabet soup associated with VR/AR/MR, and how can I tell them apart?

Now, as far as acronyms go, VR/AR/MR isn’t exactly the most complex. VR stands for Virtual Reality, AR stands for Augmented Reality, and MR stands for Mixed Reality. Simple enough, right? Wrong. Because the concepts behind these acronyms are very nuanced and specific:

  • Virtual Reality (VR): This is often wearable tech that completely eliminates you view of the outside world, teleporting you into another 3D environment. VR hardware is  a head-mounted (360 degree) display, sometimes with hand controllers.


  • Augmented Reality (AR): This often comes through mobile app technology, which takes a visual image of the surrounding environment and overlays a 3D object onto it. AR hardware is normally just a mobile phone or tablet with camera accessibility.


  • Mixed Reality (MR): A combination of both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, this is wearable tech that overlays 3D objects onto the environment of the user. MR hardware is often a head mounted display likened to glasses.


The success of these technologies? Some like to say they’re novelty items. Some say they’re revolutionary. With any new innovative technology, I always like to quote Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

Posted in: V/A/M Reality

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