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Digital Transformation, Homepage, User Experience

The terms Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality (yes, that also exists) are mixed up often especially in the professional area or it is not always clear what exactly differentiates them. In this short and compact blog post I’m trying to explain the differences.


  • Virtual Reality (VR): immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment
  • Augmented reality (AR): overlays virtual objects on the real-world environment
  • Mixed reality (MR): not just overlays but anchors virtual objects to the real world.
Differences between Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality


  • complete virtual environment generated by a computer
  • users can move in a digital environment and hear sounds
  • special hand controllers can be used to enhance VR experiences
  • special VR headset needed to experience virtual reality
  • most are connected to a computer (Oculus Rift) or a gaming console (PlayStation VR)
  • but also standalone devices (Google Cardboard)
  • most standalone VR headsets work in combination with smartphones


  • users see and interact with the real world while digital content is added to it => example: Pokemon Go – people searched with their smartphones for small virtual creatures
  • AR apps can be easily downloaded on smartphones
  • different way to experience augmented reality, e.g. through AR headsets such as Google Glass, where digital content is displayed on a tiny screen in front of a user’s eye


2 forms of reality technologies that are referred to as mixed reality

  • Mixed reality that starts with the real world
    • virtual objects are not just overlaid on the real world but can interact with it
    • this form of mixed reality can be considered an advanced form of AR
  • Mixed reality that starts with the virtual world
    • the digital environment is anchored to and replaces the real world
    • a user is fully immersed in the virtual environment while the real world is blocked out, digital objects overlap the real ones whereas in conventional VR the virtual environment isn’t connected to the real world around a user