What is the Difference Between VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality) & MR (Mixed Reality)?

Virtual Reality, VR, Immersive Technology & Simulated Environment

What is the Difference Between VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality) & MR (Mixed Reality)?

Recently updated on December 29th, 2019 at 12:18 am

Sometimes, people keep asking the difference between VR, AR and MR where the terms seems can be used interchangeably. These three words, VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality) and MR (Mixed Reality), are very confusing to new people in the industry. Especially in this era of reality technology that keep advancing and progressing. Let’s look at the areas below that might help in differentiating them.

Difference Between VR AR MR
Difference Between VR, AR & MR…

Source of Images

In VR, all of the images viewed by the user are machine generated images whether it is based on the real images then reproduced by the computer or the computer graphics images. Whatever it is, the user will see purely digital images. While in AR, the images viewed by the users are the combination of the machine generated images and also the real life objects in front of them. In this case, AR and MR shares the same characteristics.


In VR, the environment where users interact is fully digital. While in AR and MR, users experience the combination of digital environment and real life environment. Both virtual objects and real life objects are blended together seamlessly.


In VR, the virtual objects will change their size and position accordingly from our perspective based on our position and coordinates in the virtual world. For AR and MR, the virtual objects will also behave the same way but it is based on our perspective in the real world. Sometimes for AR, we require that the size of the virtual objects to remain the same and to follow us everywhere we go especially when it comes to display information and textual data.

Display Devices

The type of display devices can change according to the technology. At this moment, for VR we require a special headset which still looks a little bit bulky when we put it on our head. And for AR, we requires a special spectacles or smart glasses. Beside that, we can also use our smartphone to view AR. And for MR, we also might need special spectacles or glasses. And for the more advanced MR, we can just use our bare eyes to experience it such as hologram shows. Perhaps in the future,  we do not need any extra device to view the VR, AR & MR images. Just using our own eyes shall be sufficient enough.


With Virtual Reality, we have the feeling of being transported elsewhere. We forgot where we exactly are in the real world. It feels like being kidnapped to the other world instantly. Meanwhile, for Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality, we still feel that we are in the current real life world but with new elements and objects popping-up from nowhere. For example, with VR, we can feel the adrenaline rush of riding a roller coaster. While for AR and MR, we can see the roller coaster 3D model suddenly appears on our desk.


Let’s say we are able to render the virtual objects 100% to looks too real. If that happens, in VR and MR, we can’t distinguish it from the real objects. But in AR, we can identify the floating objects to be virtual objects based on its behaviour and nature. For example the floating text, calendar or clock that followed us everywhere.

The truth is, to categorize the solution whether it is VR or AR is quite straightforward. To tell the difference between VR and AR is quite easy. But when it comes to categorize the product whether it is AR or MR is a little bit tricky. For more reading materials, you can visit:
1) “Choose Your Reality: Virtual, Augmented or Mixed” from <re/code>.
2) “Facing Reality: Move over AR and VR, MR is the Next Wave” from iTagged.
3) “The Face Race: Virtual, Augmented & Mixed Reality Competitor Matrix.” from KZero.

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One Response

  1. Multisensory films and virtual reality are two of the most compelling technologies in this regard. Thanks to VR and 5D, people in the audience can actually get into the story, as they become actors in the narration. What are the differences between these technologies?

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