AR/VR/Mixed and Merged Reality. Why so much confusion?

Transcription of video:

Hi guys, I’m Alessandro from Zenko Games and in this video I would like to talk about the differences between the differnt types of VR, AR, Mixed Reality and Merged Reality and why there is so much confusion about this terms, so let’s start with the most common nowadays, VR.


VR, Virtual Reality, is easy to describe,  everything you see is completely virtual, and we can differentiate it in:

  • 3 Degree of Freedom VR or
  • 6 Degree of Freedoom VR

The first one is the one you can experience on mobile with headsets like the Google Cardboard or the Samsung Gear VR, but it would be better defined by the term 360° content, since essentially you have your head inside a bubble, you can look around, but you can’t move inside that world.

6 Degree of Freedoom VR is the one you can experience with headsets like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, and it can be stationary or seated when you use things like a treadmill to move around or you just don’t move, room scale when you use external sensor that track your position inside that room or inside-out tracking where those sensor are inside your headset and so you can move more freely.


Mooving on we have Augmented Reality when we have some kind of content like text or 3D models overlaid in real time on the real world.

We have four types of Augmented Reality:

  • Location Based
  • Marker Based
  • Markerless and
  • Projection Based

The first one, Location Based, is when we have some king of information ovelaid on a map, and for this reason, since we don’t see the real world, many don’t consider Location Based true AR, since is like an Augmented version of Google Maps and we never called it Augmented Reality.

In Marker Based the content is attached to a predetermined flat image or a 3D object, while in Markerless, also called SLAM that stand for Simultaneus Localization and Mapping, we can place that virtual content everywhere we want because the enviroment is tracked in real time.

Last, and probable least talked about, is Projection Based is when the content is projected on a flat surface like a wall or a table.


Merged Reality is a term used only by Intel for their Project Alloy, that is essentialy an inside-out tracking VR headset with hand tracking so you can use them to interact with the enviroment without the need of an external controller like you have to do with the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive and is a term that it’s used essentially for marketing reason to try to differentiate theirself from the competion and I think it will probabily fade away since inside-out technology is becoming more and more popular with time.


Mixed Reality is where the things get confusing because there are 2 school of thoughts about what Mixed Reality is.

For the first school, Mixed Reality is a continuum that range from Real Enviroment to Virtual Reality and in between we have Augmented Reality and Augmented Virtuality, a term that no on use, but it define a scene where a real object augment a virtual background.

This concept was first introduced by Paul Milgram in 1994 and is also reffered as the Reality – Virtuality Continuum.


The second school is the XR or Extended Reality Contiuum and is the one perceived by the general pubblic where Mixed Reality is a more advanced form of Augmented Reality where the virtual objects can interact in real time with the real enviroment.

A lot of confusion was caused by Microsoft because it has always marketed the Hololens as a Mixed Reality Headset and so when they announced the new Mixed Reality headsets with Asus, Lenovo and Dell, the people was expecting a more advanced form of AR, but what they got was a Virtual Reality headset, so they were technically right because they were following the first school, but the people was expecting something different.


In this video we used a lot of terms, but I think it would be better if we just stick to AR for when we have digital content in the real world and VR for when everthing we see is virtual.

Mixed Reality is not so much different from AR and there are not strong boundaries between the two, so it’s just another term that add confusion when is not necessary.


If you liked this video please subscribe and follow us on the social media, in the next video I’m gonna talk about why Super Mario on the Hololens is everthing wrong about the Augmented Reality industry today.