Guides VR

What is VR, AR, MR, XR, and Spatial Computing?

picture of the apple vision pro with vr, ar, mr and xr crossed out

Welcome to the bewildering world of immersive technologies, where acronyms are tossed around like pillows at a developer’s sleepover. We’re talking VR, AR, MR, XR, and the new kid on the block, Spatial Computing. Sounds like a bunch of futuristic sci-fi jargon, right? Well, buckle up, because we’re about to embark on a informative journey to decode these techy buzzwords.

Let’s start with Virtual Reality (VR), the granddaddy of immersive tech. Strap a headset on, and voila, you’re in Skyrim, or maybe in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Then there’s Augmented Reality (AR) – think Pokémon Go, but with more practical uses, like trying on clothes without actually wearing them. Mixed Reality (MR) is where things get even spicier, blending real and virtual worlds now you can spawn Moneymaker into you house and have him beat you up. Extended Reality (XR) is the umbrella term that throws everything into one big pot, just to keep us on our toes.

And finally, Spatial Computing – this one allows Apple to charge 5 times the price for their new headset. It’s all about interacting with digital worlds using the physical space around us. Which sounds pretty similar to the stuff mentioned before but with a few differences.

So, as we tiptoe through this techno-jungle, we’ll explore each of these realms, not just to figure out what the heck they all mean, but also to see how they’re transforming everything from gaming to how we learn and work.

What Is Virtual Reality (VR)?

picture of the pico 4

VR stands at the forefront of technological innovation, offering immersive experiences that are reshaping both entertainment and practical applications. Let’s delve into what VR really is and its impactful presence in various spheres.

1. Virtual Reality Definition

Virtual Reality is a technology that creates immersive, computer-generated environments distinct from the physical world. By wearing a VR headset, users step into a three-dimensional world where you can climb Mount Everest in your pajamas or swim with sharks without getting wet.

2. Spotlight on VR Headsets: The Oculus Quest 2

The Meta Quest 2 is an exemplary VR headset that showcases the advancements in this technology. Unlike its predecessors, it’s a standalone device, meaning it doesn’t require a PC or external sensors. With a built-in processor, high-resolution display, and 6DoF (Degrees of Freedom) tracking, the Quest 2 offers a comprehensive and immersive VR experience.

3. The Dynamics of VR Movement: 3DoF vs. 6DoF

In VR, the Degrees of Freedom (DoF) play a crucial role. 3DoF headsets allow rotational movements: yaw, pitch, and roll. However, 6DoF devices like the Quest 2 add positional movements (up/down, left/right, forward/backward) to the mix, offering a far more realistic experience and broader interaction possibilities.

4. The VR Gaming Scene: Innovative and Immersive

VR gaming with the Quest 2 takes players beyond traditional gaming boundaries. Titles like Beat Saber and Half-Life: Alyx demonstrate the immersive potential of VR, offering an engaging and interactive experience where players are an integral part of the game’s environment.

kayaking in mirage vr

5. Beyond Gaming: VR’s Real-World Impact

The applications of VR extend far beyond gaming. In professional settings, VR is used for training, education, and even therapy. From pilot training simulators to architectural visualizations and medical field applications, VR like that offered by the Quest 2 is proving to be a versatile and invaluable tool.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented Reality (AR) is like the tech world’s version of a magic trick, seamlessly blending digital elements into the real world. Think of it as your reality, but with a pinch of digital spice.

1. AR: Not Just Pokémon Go

pokemon go exercise

While Pokémon Go might be many people’s first rendezvous with AR, it’s more than just catching virtual Ratata in the park. AR involves overlaying digital information — images, data, animations — onto the real world through devices like smartphones or AR glasses.

2. AR in Daily Life: More Than Meets the Eye

AR is sneaking into our daily lives in more ways than one. From trying on clothes virtually to seeing how a new piece of furniture would look in your living room (without any heavy lifting), AR is the helping hand we didn’t know we needed.

3. AR in Education and Training: Learning Redefined

Imagine learning about the solar system with planets hovering around you or practicing complex machinery repairs with step-by-step holographic instructions. AR in education and training is making learning more interactive, engaging, and, dare we say, fun.

4. The Business of AR: Transforming Industries

From retail to real estate, AR is revolutionizing industries. It’s like having a crystal ball showing you exactly how things will look or work, helping businesses provide better services and customers to make more informed decisions.

5. The Future of AR: Beyond the Screen

As AR technology evolves, the line between digital and physical continues to blur. We’re not just looking at screens; we’re interacting with our environment in ways that were once the stuff of sci-fi. The future of AR could change how we navigate cities, shop, learn, and even socialize.

What is Mixed Reality (MR)?


Mixed Reality (MR) is where the boundaries between the real and the virtual worlds blur, creating a unique blend of both.

1. Mixed Reality definition

Imagine a world where digital and physical elements not only coexist but also interact. That’s MR — it’s like AR on steroids. It brings digital objects into the real world and lets them behave as if they were actually part of it.

2. MR vs. AR: Understanding the Difference

While AR overlays digital information onto your real-world view, MR goes a step further. AR might show you a 3D model of a man in your house, but MR lets you beat the crap out of him in TOTF. It’s like AR sets the stage, but MR brings the play to life.


3. The Technology Behind MR

MR uses advanced sensors, cameras, and computing power to understand and interact with the environment around you. A good example of this is the Quest 3. It’s like giving your eyes and hands superpowers to see and manipulate digital content as part of your world.

4. MR in Everyday Life and Professional Settings

From trying on clothes virtually to architects visualizing buildings in real landscapes, MR is making its mark. In professional settings, it’s a game-changer — allowing doctors, mechanics, and designers to interact with both real and virtual elements in ways never before possible.

5. The Future of MR: Challenges and Potential

While MR is groundbreaking, it’s not without its hurdles — like needing sophisticated hardware. But as technology evolves, MR could become an integral part of our daily lives, reshaping how we learn, work, and play.

What is Extended Reality (XR)?

Extended Reality (XR) is like the big umbrella that covers all kinds of immersive experiences, from fully virtual worlds to enhanced aspects of the real world.

image showing the difference between vr mr and ar and how it falls into the xr umbrella

1. What is Extended Reality (XR)?

XR is the umbrella term that encompasses Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR). It’s like the buffet of immersive technologies, offering a little bit of everything. Whether it’s fully immersive environments or just a sprinkle of digital elements in the real world, XR covers it all.

2. The Spectrum of XR: From VR to AR and MR

Think of XR as a spectrum. On one end, you have VR, where you’re completely submerged in a digital universe. In the middle lies MR, where digital and physical realities mingle. On the other end is AR, enhancing your real-world view with digital information.

3. XR in Gaming and Entertainment, and real life

Now we don’t really need to go through the examples because it’s just a combination of VR, AR and MR experiences above.

What Is Spatial Computing?

Spatial Computing refers to technology that allows physical and digital objects to coexist and interact in a shared space. It’s like your environment becomes a computer interface, where you can manipulate digital elements as naturally as you move objects in the real world.

1. How Spatial Computing Works

This technology uses advanced sensors, cameras, and AI to understand and interpret the physical environment. Then, it overlays digital information in a way that makes it seem part of the real world. Imagine rearranging digital furniture in your room just by moving your hands, or navigating a city with digital signposts floating in your view.

2. Defining the Boundaries: XR and Spatial Computing

XR is the umbrella term that includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR). It’s all about creating immersive experiences that either replace or enhance the real world. Spatial Computing, on the other hand, goes a step further by integrating the physical environment into these digital interactions.

3. Spatial Computing: Bridging the Physical and Digital

Spatial Computing focuses on how we interact with digital content in a physical space. It’s not just about seeing digital elements but about using our physical environment as an interface. This technology understands and responds to physical movements, allowing for more natural and intuitive interactions with digital content.

4. Practical Applications: XR vs. Spatial Computing

In practical terms, XR is widely used in gaming, training simulations, and entertainment, providing immersive experiences that can transport users to different worlds or enhance their perception of the real world. Spatial Computing, however, has the potential to revolutionize everyday tasks, from how we control smart home devices to how we navigate city streets, making our interaction with technology more seamless and integrated into our physical spaces.

5. The Future Trajectory: Complementary Technologies

Looking to the future, XR and Spatial Computing may increasingly overlap and complement each other. As these technologies develop, we might see XR devices incorporating more Spatial Computing capabilities, leading to a more unified and fluid experience between physical and digital worlds.

The Convergence of Realities and the Future Ahead

As we’ve journeyed through the realms of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), Extended Reality (XR), and Spatial Computing, it’s clear that the line between our physical world and digital experiences is becoming increasingly blurred. Each of these technologies, with their unique capabilities and applications, are not just shaping our current digital interactions but are also paving the way for a future where the integration of these technologies becomes seamless.

VR has shown us the power of complete immersion in digital environments, AR has brought digital enhancements to our real-world perceptions, and MR has blended the two in a dynamic interaction of physical and virtual worlds. XR has emerged as the encompassing term that highlights the spectrum of these immersive experiences, while Spatial Computing has taken the integration of digital and physical realms to a new level of interaction and intuitiveness.

The convergence of these technologies signifies a shift in how we perceive and interact with the world around us. From gaming and entertainment to education, healthcare, and industry, the possibilities are as vast as they are exciting. As these technologies continue to evolve and become more accessible, we can expect them to transform not just individual sectors but the very way we live our daily lives.

In conclusion, VR, AR, MR, XR, and Spatial Computing represent more than just technological advancements; they are gateways to new forms of interaction, learning, and understanding. As we stand at the cusp of this technological revolution, it’s exhilarating to imagine what the future holds in this convergence of realities.