What is Mixed Reality Technology?

Mixed Reality  is a type of extended reality that merges real and virtual words to create a new environment where users can interact with real and virtual environments simultaneously. In other words It combines the best of virtual Reality and augmented reality.

This image shows how mixed reality is related to augmented and virtual reality.

In mixed reality applications, digital information is integrated with the physical world and virtual and real objects coexist that can interact in real time. Any change in the real world such as movement of physical objects is reflected in the digital world as well. In this way users can manipulate and interact with both real and virtual worlds. 

For example, using mixed reality devices such as HoloLens a service engineer can see and follow step by step instructions to replace a part in a machine. Therefore we can say mixed reality is the next evolution in extended reality technologies.

How User Interact in Mixed Reality?

Doctors using Microsoft Hololens

As shown in the above image, doctors are analyzing knee joint scan results in three dimensional space while being present in the physical. With their hand they can rotate or move that digital information. Following technologies are used in mixed reality devices to interact with the digital world.

  • Gesture Input such as head and hand movements and eye tracking.
  • Environmental input such as a user position in the physical world with respect to other users and physical objects. 
  • Spatial Mapping and Spatial Understanding
  • Ambient light
  • Voice controlled
  • Object Reorganization etc.
How Mixed Reality is different from Augmented and Virtual Reality

MR has applications similar to virtual reality and augmented reality. But it offers advantages of interacting with real and virtual environments at the same time. 

Let’s compare the difference between augmented and virtual reality experience. When these products are used on the shop floor.

Case 1 : Augmented Reality

Using AR device such as smartphone or google glass assembly engineer gets step by step instructions in front of the screen. If required engineer can get real time support from his seniors. But this interaction between real and virtual world is not streamlined because their interaction with digital information is limited.

Case 2 : Mixed Reality

Similar to AR devices, using MR devices such as Microsoft HoloLens, assembly engineers get step by step instructions in front of his eyes. But along with that they can interact with digital information as well. For example he can rotate cad models with hand gestures that is not possible in AR devices.

Let’s consider one more example of playing video game in mixed and virtual reality.

Case 1: Virtual Reality 

Virtual reality gives a completely immersive experience to gamers. They have nothing to do with the outside environment. To interact with digital word input devices such as hand gloves are required.

Case 2 : Mixed Reality

MR utilizes the immersiveness of virtual reality while being present in the real world. For example while playing games using mixed reality devices such as magic leap. Game characters will pop in your space such as your drawing room wall. In this users can interact with the digital world using hand gestures or eye movements.

Applications of Mixed Reality Technologies

Similar to augmented and virtual reality Mixed reality has applications in product design, service industry, education, training and medical industry.

1. Product Design

MR devices such as HoloLens are used to review 3D geometry and features of a product. During review teams can interact with virtual models using hand gestures.

2. In Education and Training

Mixed reality technology is used to train students and understand difficult concepts in interactive ways.

3. Service Industry

Mixed reality devices such as HoloLens are used by service engineers to get step by step instructions to repair a machine.

4. Functional Mockup for Design verification and Approvals

Mixed reality apps are used to create functional mockups for a product by combining digital elements with physical products. In this way users can give their feedback before building a real product.

5. Enhanced Shopping Experience

Using MR, brands and companies can showcase their products virtually through online platforms. Where users can interact with products. This helps buyers in understanding a product in a better way and make the right buying decision.

6. In Healthcare Industry

By using mixed reality devices doctors can analyze patient reports such as knee joint scan results in three dimensional space while being present in the physical world. With their hand they can rotate or move that digital information.

Mixed Reality Devices

We will keep adding more information on mixed reality technology. Please add your suggestions, comments or questions in the comment box. We suggest you to read this article on AR vs VR vs MR.

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