or AR-15 or alternate reality or augmented reality


What does AR mean?  


AR can stand for hundreds of things, but here are three of the big ones: augmented reality, alternate reality and ArmaLite rifle.

Examples of AR


Examples of AR

Onshape lets engineers collaborate on 3D designs with Magic Leap’s AR glasses

Dean Takahashi, Venture Beat (headline), October, 2018
We all know AR stands for Alternate Reality, and that the bullets travel fast enough to go to a parallel universe. Duh
@properopinion, February, 2018
Nine Hertz

Where does AR come from?

Nine Hertz

Augmented reality is similar to virtual reality, except instead of immersing the user into a simulated environment, it enhances (augments) an existing environment around them, usually digitally. Potential applications range from education to medicine.

An early, analog AR example was Morton Heilig’s 1950s Sensorama cinema. Heilig would hide in a movie theater and administer vibrations and smells to enhance the viewing experience. It is unconfirmed what he would use to create the smells.

The phrase augmented reality emerged by 1992, with the abbreviation AR following after. AR is familiar to many when watching football on television, with the technology used to add a first-down line on screens. AR exploded into public consciousness in 2016, with the world’s favorite pasttime (for a month) Pokemon Go, which mapped digital creatures on real-world maps.


Alternate reality is the concept of universes that coexist alongside the one we’re all in. Science-fiction and fantasy fans join some hardcore scientists in speculation on their existence. Since the mid-20th century, physicists—such as Erwin Schrödinger, of cat fame—have considered the possibilities of parallel universes, or alternate realities, sometimes abbreviated as AR.


A final AR is found in AR-15. First created and designated in the 1950s, the AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle that we’re all too tragically familiar with due to its use in mass shootings—or, less darkly, video games. Contrary to popular belief, the AR does not stand for assault rifle but ArmaLite Rifle after the company that first made it.

Who uses AR?

Techies and educators alike are very excited about the potential of AR. It can bring hard-to-imagine things to life. Alongside VR for virtual realityAR is commonly used as  a jargon abbreviation in the tech industry and startup communities.

Rick and Morty fans will be all too familiar with the concept of alternate realities, as it’s a key concept that underpins the popular cartoon.


Outside of discussion of theoretical alternate realities, alternate reality is used as a figure of speech to characterize someone who is in such denial of the facts that it’s as if they are living in an alternate reality. The abbreviation AR is more likely to be found in scientific contexts.

AR-15 often comes up in discussions in gun control, especially after mass shootings in the United States. Gun enthusiasts, however, are fond of the abbreviation.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.