What is ‘Mixed Reality’?

It depends on where you’re coming from…

2 min readJan 3, 2024


To XR veterans, it was originally defined as “the whole spectrum from AR to VR,” not just something smack in the middle. But it’s been redefined by industry lately, and somewhat depends on which direction you’re coming from:

1) For those coming from VR development, MR means we’re adding in this magical new thing called “reality” (beyond simple guardian features) so that it doesn’t seem like we’re always somewhere else. All of a sudden we have our full bodies again, real clothes mostly, we know where the coffee table really is, and we can even type on keyboards. Yeah. It’s a revolution.

2) For those coming from AR (the smart-phone kind), their devices always used video pass-through, but now it’s on their heads instead of in their hands. So they’d just call this “hands-free AR” and wonder what the fuss is about.

3) For those coming from “true AR” (optical pass through, which ultimately leads to all-day glasses), it’s still just AR. Why did anyone need to rename it based on the use of cameras and displays vs. waveguides? Who cares what the display tech is as long as it works? And, in fact, the best AR experiences are the ones with a very light touch out in the world.



Avi Bar-Zeev

XR Pioneer (30+ years), started/helped projects at Microsoft (HoloLens), Apple, Amazon, Keyhole (Google Earth), Linden Lab (Second Life), Disney (VR), XR Guild