What’s the Difference Between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality?

What’s the Difference Between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality?

Published: 21-06-2022
Updated: 04-12-2023

When not accustomed to the many reality definitions of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), assisted reality (aR) and mixed reality (MR), it can get confusing fast.

In this article, you will know the difference between the acronyms and their transformative use-cases when combined.

In this article, you will discover:

  • What is Virtual Reality?
  • What is Augmented Reality?
  • What is Mixed Reality?
  • The differences between Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality
  • Conclusion

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is digital content, either similar to or completely distinct from the real world. It can be video content recorded by a 360-degree camera or a 3D animated world. However, virtual reality is always entirely contained within the VR headset – shutting out the outside world. 

MR vs AR vs VR - VR Expert

There are 3 types of virtual reality devices currently on the market. Standalone VR, these are headsets that work without the need for cables or a mobile phone. PC VR, these are headsets that work in combination with a computer. Finally Smartphone VR, these are headsets that use a smartphone to act as the processor and screen of the device.

MR vs AR vs VR - VR Expert

Notable VR headsets:

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) places digital interactable objects or experiences on top of the real world in front of you. In other words, augmented reality places digital layers on top of the real world.  A popular augmented reality experience is, for example, Pokémon GO, where users could see life-sized digital Pokemon in the real world on a smartphone. 

Notable augmented reality devices are:

Assisted reality (aR) is also sometimes mistaken for augmented reality. Assisted reality is different from augmented reality (AR) in that assisted reality places static digital objects and experiences in front of your eyes and it is focussed on the real world with the digital content as an addition. Simply said, it gives you full situational awareness and access to digital information when you need it.

Notable assisted reality devices are:

What is Mixed Reality?

What happens when virtual and augmented reality is mixed together? You get mixed reality (MR).

Mixed reality is the complete blending of the real and digital worlds. This allows for experiences that can switch between augmented and virtual reality. Simply put, it allows for the physical and digital objects to both exist and interact in real time, allowing for a hybrid environment to be created.

The differences between virtual, augmented and mixed reality

Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) are all different ways of experiencing digital content.

The two most important differences between virtual and augmented reality are mobility and immersion.

MR vs AR vs VR - VR Expert

Virtual reality (VR) means you are constrained to a designated area where you can move and interact with the digital experience. Oppositely, augmented reality (AR) and assisted reality (aR) free you to move wherever you like and still experience the digital data. Mixed reality combines virtual and augmented realities to create an even more interactive and transformative experience.


VR, AR, and MR are completely changing how we interact with digital content and technology, making possible what we previously have not seen. It will change how we live and work, providing experiences that were science fiction just 15 years ago.