Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are terms relatively known in the simulation world. Mixed reality is the third term which is increasingly becoming popular and it refers to the merging or combination of virtual environments and real environments where both worlds can exist together. In other quarters, mixed reality is also known as “Hybrid Reality”.
In mixed reality, the user is given the ability to explore the virtual environment and the real world seamlessly at the same time. Through the use space and coordinates, the virtual objects will be positioned on the real world and whenever you move towards the virtual objects, they become larger while moving away from them makes them smaller. Moving around the virtual objects will also give you different angles and perspectives. Additionally, mixed reality will allow users to manipulate the virtual objects and interact with them as if they were with them in the same place.
How does Mixed Reality work
With the development of the technology is shrouded in secrecy by the major players, all that is known on the operations of the technology is that it uses virtual reality and augmented reality as well as space and coordinates. Magic Leap is the company at the forefront in the development of mixed reality and they have remained tight lipped about the finer details of what they are doing or developing. The scanty details we know however, suggests that just like Hololens, mixed reality will use a projector for displaying images on semi transparent materials which will then be reflected to the eye with the help of beam-splitting technology.
Applications of Mixed Reality
Due to the unique features and experiences offered by mixed reality, businesses, developers and the world in general is beginning to explore the various ways to utilize the technology for the best possible results. Currently, fields such as medicine, architecture and urban planning and education and training appear to be the greatest beneficiary of mixed reality technology.
Mixed Reality for sharing real-world virtual workspaces
When multiple mixed reality devices are brought into a shared space, there will be the creation of new collaboration options. Through mixed reality, members of a team can network in a shared virtual world overlaid in the physical world. A connected environment will thus be created where workers can collaborate and work together and interact with virtual items in the real world. This will be made possible by the utilization of image recognition and real time mapping capabilities of mixed realities.
Sharing real world virtual spaces through mixed reality can be especially beneficial for sales team when making a pitch for a new offer. For instance, a pharmaceutical sales rep can carry along two mixed reality devices to an appointment with the doctor. The doctor and the sales rep can then both wear the devices and see a model of the new drug as explained by the sales rep. Through this, they can then visualize the chemical composition of the drug and also simulate how the drug will move in the body to fight diseases. Through such a shared experience, the sales rep will not only build deeper connections with the doctor, but also offer a more detailed explanation on the product being offered.
Mixed reality for remote experts – over the shoulder coaching
Most enterprises usually find it difficult to address all the support requests from all the clients in need of expert advice. It is not only costly to fly in specialists to fix things in different locations, but also time consuming. Besides, it is never adequate to troubleshoot an issue over the phone and video conferencing in such situations also have its limitations. But all these can now be avoided through the application of mixed reality for offering over the shoulder coaching remotely. With mixed reality, access to experts can be done quickly and inexpensively. For example, doctors in the healthcare industry can offer guidance and decisions to students or other doctors without the need of being in the actual locations.
The future of mixed reality
Mixed reality comes along with immeasurable potential of changing how people work, interact and communicate with the real world. As the technology matures and the accompanying devices get smaller, it is expected that various sectors and industries will adopt the use of mixed reality in their day to day operations.
But while the technology develops and gets better each day, topics such as the acceptable social use and etiquette will also have to be addressed. For instance, how will an employee with mixed reality device interact with fellow employees at the workplace? Or how are the social norms expected to change so as to accommodate devices such as holograms which can only be seen by a few people?
Also, since mixed reality experiences take place in the physical world, individuals are likely to react to them more emotionally than to a mere digital experience. As the technology develops, it is imperative for developers as well as the intended users to be aware of such issues and be ready to address them accordingly.
Benjamin Arango is a writer and a lover of all things video.
Follow @Benjamin Arango
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