Due to the ongoing hype around virtual reality (VR) headsets and a still lingering general interest in augmented reality (AR) it might be a good idea to take a look at what the difference between them are.

In research we are often using the term mixed reality (MR) to describe a whole spectrum, ranging from VR on one side to “normal reality” on the other end. This is also known as the “mixed reality continuum” which was described in a paper by Milgram and Kishino: A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays.

Or, as a simple diagram, it looks like this:

Mixed Reality Continuum according to Milgram and Kishino.
Mixed Reality Continuum according to Milgram and Kishino.

Professor Steve Benford, one of the heads of the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham (and one of my PhD supervisors), explains the whole concept in more detail in an excellent video as part of the Computerphile YouTube series. My favourite part is when he defines true VR as a human conscience uploaded into a computer system (or just brains in a jar).

What is Mixed Reality

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