How Does Mixed Reality Expand on Augmented Reality

Mixed reality (MR) is an innovative technology that has gained significant attention in recent years. It lies between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), blending the digital world with the real world, creating a composite view where virtual objects are seamlessly integrated into the user’s environment.

This immersive experience provides opportunities to explore a range of applications in various industries, such as gaming, healthcare, and education.

To understand how mixed reality expands on augmented reality, it is essential to differentiate between the two. Augmented reality overlays digital content onto the user’s real-world environment, whereas mixed reality not only adds virtual elements but allows interaction with both virtual and real-world objects.

This sophisticated interaction enhances the user experience and offers a more dynamic environment, enabling users to engage with virtual scenarios while simultaneously acknowledging their physical surroundings.

One of the key ways MR expands on AR is by converting real-world views into 2D images, creating a more cohesive integration between virtual and real-world elements. This advancement results in a more immersive experience and offers greater potential for combining technology with everyday life.

As mixed reality continues to evolve, we can expect to see further developments in this exciting field, pushing the boundaries of what is possible when the digital and physical worlds intersect.

Understanding Mixed Reality

A Fusion of Technologies

Mixed reality (MR) is a technology that blends the best features from virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). It combines digital representations of people, places, and things with the real world, creating a seamless interaction between the virtual and physical environments. In mixed reality, the real-world view is often converted into 2D images, allowing for a more immersive experience when compared to augmented reality.

Mixed reality adds overlays and real-world objects into a virtually rendered world, providing users with a more interactive and engaging experience. This fusion of VR and AR technologies has paved the way for new and exciting applications across various industries, such as gaming, healthcare, education, and entertainment.

The Immersive Spectrum

Within the immersive spectrum, mixed reality lies somewhere between virtual reality and augmented reality. While virtual reality fully immerses users in an entirely virtual world, augmented reality adds virtual elements to their real-world environment. Mixed reality, on the other hand, allows users to interact with both virtual and real-world objects simultaneously.

The immersive spectrum showcases the potential of mixed reality, as it can range from experiences where the real world is the primary focus, with few virtual elements added, to scenarios where the virtual world takes precedence and real-world interactions are minimised.

This flexible and adaptive nature makes mixed reality an attractive choice for developers, as it can cater to a wide variety of use cases and user preferences.

How Mixed Reality Builds on Augmented Reality

Real and Virtual Object Interaction

Mixed reality (MR) is an extension of augmented reality (AR) that enhances the interaction possibilities between real and virtual objects. While AR overlays digital content onto the physical world, MR allows real and virtual elements to coexist and interact, creating a richer and more dynamic experience.

This dynamic interaction is achieved through advanced tracking and spatial mapping technology, which enables digital content to adapt to the real environment and react to changes in real time. In consequence, MR provides a more convincing and immersive experience than AR, blurring the lines between the digital and the physical space.

Spatial Computing

Another key aspect that distinguishes mixed reality from augmented reality is the implementation of spatial computing.

Spatial computing allows devices to understand and respond to their environment, enabling digital objects to interact with real-world locations and objects. This involves implementing advanced algorithms and technologies, such as artificial intelligence, computer vision, and machine learning, to process and make sense of complex spatial data.

In mixed reality experiences, this means that digital content is not merely overlaid on top of the physical environment but rather integrated into it, operating under the same physical rules and constraints. This integration allows for more natural and seamless interactions between real and virtual objects, contributing to the overall immersiveness of MR experiences.

In conclusion, mixed reality expands on augmented reality by bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds through real and virtual object interaction and spatial computing. These advancements lead to more engaging, immersive, and convincing experiences that blend the boundaries between reality and the digital realm.

Applications of Mixed Reality

Mixed reality (MR) is a technology that lies between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), allowing users to blend digital and physical environments.

It has numerous applications across various domains. In this section, we will focus on a few notable applications: Education and Training, Industry and Manufacturing, and Gaming and Entertainment.

Education and Training

MR is revolutionising the way we approach education and training, providing immersive learning experiences for students and professionals alike. In this domain, mixed reality offers:

  • Interactive learning environments: MR allows learners to explore 3D models, diagrams, and simulations interactively, promoting a better understanding and retention of complex concepts.
  • Collaborative learning experiences: MR fosters teamwork through shared digital workspaces, where students and educators can collaborate in real-time, regardless of their physical location.
  • Hands-on training: MR enables skill-based training by providing practical demonstrations and task simulations in a safe and controlled environment, which can be particularly helpful in training for medical procedures, scientific experiments, or technical maintenance.

Industry and Manufacturing

Mixed reality has significant potential in the industrial and manufacturing sector, helping to streamline processes and reduce operational costs. Some applications of MR in this domain include:

  • Process visualisation: MR allows workers to visualise product designs, process flows, or spatial layouts with holographic overlays, assisting in planning and decision-making.
  • Remote assistance: Technicians can access real-time guidance and expert support from remote specialists using MR, reducing downtime and enabling quick resolution of issues.
  • Maintenance and inspection: MR simplifies complex maintenance tasks by providing step-by-step instructions, 3D annotations, and contextual information overlaid onto physical equipment.

Gaming and Entertainment

The gaming and entertainment industry is embracing mixed reality, providing engaging and immersive experiences for users. MR enhances gaming and entertainment by:

  • Immersive storytelling: MR allows creators to blend digital characters, objects, and environments with the real world, enriching narrative experiences and enhancing user engagement.
  • Interactive gaming: Mixed reality games immerse players in both physical and virtual environments, encouraging exploration, creativity, and physical interaction.
  • Social experiences: MR fosters social interaction and collaboration within gaming communities, allowing users to share memorable moments and participate in collective experiences.

In conclusion, mixed reality expands on augmented reality by offering innovative applications across multiple sectors, from education and training to industry and manufacturing, as well as gaming and entertainment.

With its ability to blend the digital and physical worlds, MR provides users with enriched, interactive experiences that can significantly impact various aspects of modern life.

Challenges in Mixed Reality

Hardware Limitations

In the realm of mixed reality (MR), one of the primary challenges faced is the limitation of current hardware. The technology requires powerful processing capabilities and advanced sensors to seamlessly merge the real and virtual environments, providing the user with an interactive and immersive experience. However, this often leads to bulky and expensive devices, hindering widespread adoption.

Moreover, the battery life of MR devices can be fairly limited due to the high energy demands of both processing and display technologies. Developing more efficient and lightweight hardware is critical to harnessing the full potential of mixed reality applications.

User Comfort

Another crucial challenge with the implementation of mixed reality is ensuring user comfort. This encompasses the ergonomics and the wearability of MR devices, as well as the overall user experience. It is important to develop devices that are comfortable and lightweight while still maintaining their functionality.

Additionally, the user interface and interaction techniques employed in mixed reality applications must be designed with user comfort in mind. This includes the input methods, such as hand gestures or voice commands, and the output methods, like visual or auditory feedback. Any lag or latency in these interactions can lead to motion sickness or overall discomfort amongst users.


Making MR technology available and accessible to a diverse audience is essential in increasing adoption and ensuring that its benefits can be experienced by all. This includes overcoming physical, financial, and educational barriers that may currently limit MR technology’s reach.

For instance, developing MR applications that cater to the unique requirements of users with disabilities, like incorporating audio descriptions and haptic feedback for visually impaired users, can make the technology more inclusive.

Additionally, reducing the cost of MR devices and providing educational resources, training, and support would further encourage widespread adoption of mixed reality in various sectors and among different user groups.



I’m the resident head of comms and partnerships here at Draw & Code. I work on strategy, sales, marketing and other vital areas at a studio that was founded on a dream and has spent the intervening decade trying to make that dream come true. I believe that immersive and interactive technologies are impacting on our lives and being in the epicentre of this industry makes every day a thrill.

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