November 23, 2018 Lachlan Harnell

Quick Guide to Acronyms: VR, AR, MR & XR

VR, AR, MR and XR. You’ve probably heard of at least one of these acronyms used to describe emerging immserive technologies. Maybe you’re not sure exactly what constitutes VR, or maybe you’re wondering whats the difference between AR and MR? Worry not, for in this quick guide we will briefly cover definitions of the various types of immersive technologies.

VR: Virtual Reality

Immersing yourself in a virtual world.

Virtual Reality is the most well-known of the immersive technologies and by now most people have probably at least heard of it. Essentially, VR is a term used to describe experiences that are viewed by wearing a HMD (Head Mounted Display) such as an Oculus Go or HTC Vive. The aim of VR is to build a sense of presence, of making you believe you are actually somewhere else. Currently VR only engages our sense of sight and sound, but in the future this will evolve to incorporate our other senses to heighten immersion. VR experiences can be either computer generated or can use 360 media (what is 360 media?) of the real world.

AR: Augmented Reality

Adding a layer of digital information to the real world.

Also sometimes referred to as Altered Reality. AR is when a device is used to view the real world, but with an added overlay of graphics/text. The key here is that AR keeps you in the real world, but adds more information to it. While currently it is a smaller market compared to VR, many experts believe it will actually grow quickly to become even bigger than Virtual Reality.

MR: Mixed Reality

Combining the real and virtual worlds together in a way that allows interaction.

Also sometimes called Hybrid Reality. There is a lot of confusion between what the difference between AR and MR is, with the terms often being used interchangeably. The key feature that distinguishes MR from AR is that in MR the physical and digital content can influence and interact with each other. In AR the digital content cannot influence the real world.

XR: Extended Reality

XR is a catch all term to describe all immersive technology experiences: VR, AR and MR. This acronym was coined mainly to make it simpler to quickly refer to this content.

Well there you have it! As XR continues to advance and become integrated more into our society, it will become more important to be able to correctly identify the various types of XR as each is very different in what it is capable of. Hopefully this guide was useful in briefly informing you of the various immersive technology experiences.

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