AR, VR, MR, and XR - What They Mean and How They'll Transform Lives

Nov 17, 2022 2:10 PM ET

OnQ Blog

The way we work, play, and socialize is changing dramatically. More people than ever are working remotely, and screens have become the leading platform for learning and gaming. And this evolution has paved way to the metaverse — today, popular devices like the Meta Quest 2 seamlessly unleash you into an immersive world where you can shop, create and play games, collaborate with colleagues, explore, and more.

Defining AR, VR, MR, and XR

At Qualcomm Technologies, we’re making connectivity more accessible, pushing boundaries to empower you with Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR). But what do these technologies mean and how are they poised to transform your life? Here’s a forward-look:

  • AR is the technology that overlays digital content on top of the real world through a phone or a head-worn device, such as glasses or a headset.
  • VR immerses the user in a virtual environment to create believable experiences, whether they immerse the user in a real-life situation or a creative imaginary experience.
  • MR brings the best of both AR and VR together by capturing the real-world through a series of cameras and sensors – then projecting it on a display before your eyes. In MR, virtual objects are seamlessly integrated into reality for completely new experiences.
  • XR refers to all the above, and the metaverse refers to the ecosystem revolving around XR. Think of a 3D internet that you could access from anywhere through a laptop, smartphone, or headset to meet with friends, work out, play, and work.

Similar technology, different usage


Since AR pushes real-time, non-disruptive information to your eyes, it can deliver information so you don’t need to look at your phone, which comes in handy when a glance away might be dangerous or impractical.

The applications are endless. For example, an AR app might help you try on a garment from the comfort of home or see how a new piece of furniture looks in your living room.

Plus, visuals can be added upon cue to make a museum tour more meaningful and engaging, for example.

And soon, cyclists, skiers, and other athletes might wonder what they ever did without the safety of AR real-time data and GPS function as it keeps their atteniton on the path ahead.

Workplace benefits abound too. AR can enable remote assistance, making it easier for a technician to guide a repair process, or it can leverage precise localization data to guide technicians to the exact incident location to accelerate repair time.


When you want to be fully immersed and distraction-free from the real world, VR delivers. You might use VR, for example, in gaming, working out, or training. Tripp, a recipient of the Snapdragon Metaverse-Fund, helps you mediate by providing a virtual immersive environment whereever you are – that's the beauty of VR.


MR comes into play when you need to create an experience on top of an existing environment, without altering it in real life. This means it can enable a designer to showcase a home remodel in detail; an urban planner to present a new park design proposal; or an engineer experiment with a prototype while collaborating with teammates.

What to expect in the next decade

Remember how smartphones took off once there was a rich ecosystem of apps? Similarly, the same is anticipated with XR – great, easy-to-use content will quickly become the key to widespread use.

To facilitate that growth, last November we launched Snapdragon Spaces, a toolkit that enables developers and content creators to seamlessly create head worn AR applications. We're providing the technology they need to build great applications so that they can focus on what they do best: content. We also established the Snapdragon Spaces Pathfinder program to support creators and developers who bring great apps and content to life.

We’re also working on wireless headsets (also called “standalone”), like the AR Smartviewer powered by Snapdragon XR2 platform with long-lasting batteries and light, sleek designs.

And to further set the stage for a digital future with AR, VR, MR, and XR experiences we're enabling hardware, chipsets, and designs that consume less power and dissipate heat. Leveraging our long-standing connectivity and AI expertise, we making sure software and apps are smooth and smart so your virtual experiences of today and tomorrow are unforgettable.

Learn more about how VR transforming the way we experience reality

Learn more about how AR is blending the physical and digital worlds