What Is Mixed Reality? The Better Side of Technology
Mixed reality in entertainment
The obvious shock factor of this type of technology can leave an audience in awe, but there are so many aspects of events and entertainment that could benefit from MR tech.
The Weather Channel has started to use mixed reality technology on their programs to give viewers a more realistic understanding of the current conditions and offer guidance on protecting themselves in case of dangerous weather.
MR is a new wave in technology, so its entertainment applications are a little unusual. For example, Angry Birds First Person Slingshot is an MR gaming experience that uses Magic Leap headsets to superimpose birds into your surroundings.
Mixed reality in healthcare
MR simulations create a hologram effect of real human body parts. Hovering a mobile device over a targeted area creates 3D interactive models of organs to understand their functioning. It has also become a powerful tool for training medical professionals, students, and remotely operating field medics. In radiology, surgeons can use MR-powered X-ray vision to see through a patient’s skin and identify blood vessels and bones.
Mixed reality can be extremely effective to implement during critical surgeries, and can even save lives.
Mixed reality wearable computers
Headsets aren’t new, but the possible applications for them are almost endless these days. They map the surrounding physical environment to create a digital display. You could, for instance, move furniture around in a room without ever lifting anything.
This example of MR technology shows digital apps pinned to places that make the most sense. Think about having a to-do list on your fridge and a recipe app next to your oven. This tech takes multitasking to the next level!
Mixed reality in construction or engineering
MR devices can create virtual site maps for project engineers, architects, and onsite workers to use while working remotely. Coupled with 3D modeling software, designers, and architects illustrate their projects via mixed reality holograms.
You can use MR to conceptualize building structures in many forms without traveling long distances for site visits. Whether the pillar markings are off or the parapet is short, whether the paint doesn’t suit or the plywood needs to be changed, mixed reality gives an insight into everything.
Mixed reality in manufacturing
Mixed reality teleports production or manufacturing plants directly into your company’s space. You can oversee assembly lines, inventory, and supply levels from the office. MR acts as a vehicle that lets you and your team monitor and test production processes without actually having to be in close proximity to it.
Source: World Construction Today
The software device changes or highlight manufacturing issues or runs checks in real-time. Japan Airlines (JAL) actively uses Microsoft HoloLens to train engineers with virtual assistance from their location.
Mixed reality video calls
Video calls are a great way to communicate with someone not in the room with you. Well, with MR, they actually can be with you (kind of). Mixed reality video conferencing allows you can move the ‘screen’ around and interact in new ways.
Source: Microsoft HoloLens
With this technology, the person on the other end of the call doesn’t need a headset to take part. They can even draw on their screens to convey what they are trying to say, which will place holograms over physical objects in your view.
Did you know? Microsoft Windows mixed reality portal is a part of Windows 10 and 11. Through its flagship HoloLens, it provides unique access to live sports and entertainment and connects with others in the ultimate high-octane VR gaming experience.
Benefits of mixed reality
Advancements in immersive mixed reality technology have opened up new avenues for both commercial and non-commercial sectors. Ideas that were once devised as sci-fi movies have slowly and gradually drifted into reality.
Let’s discuss just a few of the benefits we get from MR.
- Strong customer base: Mixed reality combined with next-level AI can create unforgettable customer experiences at scale. Customers can experiment with something, try it on, or learn how to use it through instructional videos or virtual manuals in real life.
- Trustworthiness: Trusted brands like Facebook, Apple, and Samsung are already investing in subsidiaries that will develop MR experiences for the general public. These initiatives are also funded heavily in the investment world, which could reduce doubt in the minds of consumers.
- Increased concentration: MR combines natural and digital elements in unexpected ways that keep people focused until their experience is over.
- Hyper personalization: No other form of media passes as more personal and engaging for customers than mixed reality. The individual immersed in a mixed reality scenario works with digital information more closely while in their physical world.
- Virtual demos for vendors: If you are a B2B company, you can provide holographic devices to your client for virtual walkthroughs of the product, which showcase features, modules, applications, and results in the customer’s living space.
- Reduced mishaps: Using MR technology as an adaptive training simulator for dangerous scenarios such as mining, archaeology, or mountain climbing reduces casualties and accidents.
- Conducive learning: Mixed reality’s cousin, augmented reality has successfully broken the outdated barriers to education and provides an experiential environment for students to learn, brainstorm, and interact.
Challenges of mixed reality
As mixed reality has been adopted only recently, companies are still investing money in deeper research to see how they can use it as a part of their business funnel.
Mixed reality is driven by immersive technology and artificial intelligence, two standalone digital technologies that themselves haven’t been widely implemented. MR requires exceptional talent, and the process of creating 3D content is expensive, time-consuming, and hardware-intensive. Let’s look closely at some challenges we face in standardizing mixed reality.
- Cost: The upfront cost of creating partially real and partially virtual environments is a lot. Aside from the hardware costs, investing in proper software development kits and hiring efficient developers who can curate customized applications costs thousands of dollars, with no guaranteed ROI.
- Old spatial mapping techniques: Based on computational geometry or other mathematical techniques, which give only an approximate estimate of the position or location of a real-world object. Deploying 3D elements in any given environment requires the precise mapping of real-world coordinates.
- Trained workforce: Service specialists, data analysts, and software engineers to build, train and test the entire infrastructure from scratch are necessary if you want to create an optimal MR experience. It’s one of the major MR challenges faced by industries today.
- Time-consuming: MR is unlikely to be chosen as an efficient way of generating ROI. A startup’s minimum viable product (MVP) requires efficient marketing followed by lightning-fast production like just-in-time to spike sales. Mixed reality takes its own sweet time to show results.
- User experience: Across different parts comes with different levels of tech savviness. Some might not be comfortable using a device to experience MR.
Augmented reality vs. virtual reality vs. mixed reality
AR, VR, and MR fall under the same umbrella term of extended reality (XR). Despite the parity in the degree of immersions created by each of them, there is a possible relationship that makes them the epicenter of immersive tech.
Augmented reality overlays digital content in a real-world scenario to educate, entertain, and immerse people. It is a way to augment a user’s sense of perception. AR experiences are mainly supplemented with AR headsets, controllers, input devices, and gyroscopes. Examples can be Pokémon Go and Snap AR.
Virtual reality is a complete virtual replica of reality, representing every real element through a digital avatar. The fundamental concept behind the metaverse, virtual reality mainly focuses on cross-border virtual communication and social connections.
Mixed reality is a hybrid of augmented and virtual reality where 3D objects interact with the physical environment and people.
Mixed reality can also create deceptive visuals in the user’s environment, making it hard to distinguish what’s real and computer-generated. It’s a recent innovation bound to gain immense traction in the coming years as more people rely on cloud networks and immersive gadgetry for communication.
No mixed feelings here
Mixed reality has surely set humankind on an ambitious journey to explore more about the universe.
It’s just getting started, but a glimpse so far has had a drastic impact on people and their mindsets. In the coming years, we’ll get to see how everyone uses mixed reality in unison to work, play, and communicate their ideas.
Generate exceptional immersive experiences and stay ahead of the marketing race. Build, test, and run customized ar applications on your platform with AR SDK.