What is the difference between AR vs. VR vs. MR


New technologies in immersive technologies are growing and improving. They’re changing how different businesses work. These technologies, like extended reality, could help companies in many ways. So, leaders in IT must understand how these technologies might help their industry and execute them accordingly.

It might seem hard to tell the difference between augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality, but you’ve probably seen them in movies or games. These technologies can make digital experiences better for a company’s customers and employees.

Here’s more about each type of technology (Augmented reality vs. virtual reality vs. mixed reality) as well as some potential real-life use cases and applications.

What is Augmented reality (AR)?

Augmented reality (AR) puts a digital display over what you see in the real world.

For example- In Iron Man, Tony Stark’s helmet shows him things like how far away objects are, his height above the ground, and how fast an enemy is moving.

But augmented reality isn’t just for movies. Some companies are using AR to train their workers and do maintenance.


  • In manufacturing, AR headsets can show important information like machine models, serial numbers, manuals, and repair procedures.
  • Supervisors can sync with the headset to see what workers are seeing and give instructions if needed.
  • Animated instructions can be displayed for tasks or repairs.
  • In restaurants, AR can show menu items when ordering in-person or on mobile phones, giving more details like portion sizes.
  • This could reduce the need for paper menus and improve customer satisfaction.
  • In warehouses, AR smart glasses can help workers find the quickest route to pick items and confirm their location on shelves.

What is Virtual reality (VR)?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-made world where you can interact with things using special devices like headsets and gloves.

In movies like The Matrix, VR is shown as a completely immersive world that feels just like the real one. While we can’t yet experience taste, touch, and smell in VR, it’s still a helpful technology, even if it’s not fully immersive.

Some popular VR products for consumers are Google’s Cardboard, Meta’s Oculus Rift, and Sony’s PlayStation VR2.


  • Manufacturers can use VR headsets to analyze equipment, evaluate production processes, and train workers.
  • Workers can recreate the manufacturing process in a VR simulation to find more efficient ways to run machines.
  • Manufacturers can also create virtual models, or digital twins, of products to monitor their lifecycle and gain insights.
  • In healthcare, VR can be used for exposure therapy for veterans with PTSD and rehabilitation for patients with neurological disorders.

Difference between AR & VR

Equipment- AR can be experienced on smartphones, while VR requires a headset.

Environment- AR connects virtual elements to the real world, like seeing Pokémon in real locations. VR creates a fully fictional world.

Interactions- AR blends virtual and real worlds, while VR immerses users entirely in a virtual world. For example, in a VR game, you’d be in a virtual French Revolution, interacting only within that world.

What is Mixed reality (MR)?

Mixed reality (MR) goes beyond augmented reality by letting users interact with virtual objects. An MR headset shows digital info that matches up with real-world spots, so users can interact with it. For instance, an MR headset could put a virtual keyboard on a desk for typing.

The main difference between MR and AR is that MR lets you interact with the digital stuff. In AR, you can see a holographic image of an engine, but in MR, you could actually take it apart virtually.


  • Technician Use- MR lets technicians see and virtually take apart equipment, like engines, to inspect them without tools, saving time.
  • Retail Merchandising- Retailers can use MR to visualize store layouts. A hologram can show how adding a promotion at the store’s front will look.
  • Student Learning- MR helps students learn better with 3D projections and simulations. For instance, they can practice skills like artifact cleaning in a museum without risking damage to real artifacts.

And what does Extended reality (XR) mean? (Bonus)

Extended reality (XR) is a mix of the real and virtual worlds. It includes augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and other immersive tech. The metaverse is accessed through XR.


So in the end, augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality offer unique and innovative ways to blend digital experiences with the real world. While AR enhances the real world with digital elements, VR immerses users in a completely virtual environment, and MR combines aspects of both. Each technology has its own strengths and applications, from enhancing consumer experiences to alter training and education. As these technologies continue to evolve, they will undoubtedly shape the future of how we interact with and perceive the world around us.

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