In 2022, virtual reality headset sales in the United States amounted to $4.3 million. This figure shows the rise in popularity of virtual and augmented reality. However, have you heard of mixed reality (MR)? What is mixed reality? Does it matter in our daily lives?
Let’s see if and how MR affects us.
First, let’s answer what mixed reality is.
- Mixed reality creates an immersive and interactive experience that the user can manipulate by merging physical and virtual objects.
- While mixed reality technology is still relatively new, several industries are already leveraging it.
- It’s up to us as individuals, however, to make sure that we use these new tools in a way that doesn’t infringe on the rights and privacy of others or put our safety at risk.
What is mixed reality?
Mixed reality (MR) is a combination of augmented reality and virtual reality. Augmented reality layers digital objects onto a physical environment without the ability to manipulate the object. With virtual reality, the real world is hidden, and the user is fully immersed in a digital world. Mixed reality creates an immersive and interactive experience that the user can manipulate by merging physical and virtual objects.
Engineers create mixed reality applications by combining various hardware, software, and programming languages such as Unity. The hardware to develop MR experiences includes headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens, mobile devices, and cameras. At the same time, developers use programming languages to write code that is uploaded onto the MR platform and used to control how the experience renders in real-time.
Who uses mixed reality?
Mixed reality technology is still relatively new. Yet, several industries, such as healthcare, entertainment, and education, are already leveraging it.
An example of MR in healthcare
Healthcare professionals use MR technology to create interactive 3D models of organs and body parts that they can manipulate in real-time (see feature image). These models allow medical students and other health professionals to understand better how certain conditions might present themselves in different individuals, thus helping diagnose and treat patients.
An example of MR in education
Mixed reality is also helping the educational sector to create immersive learning experiences. Teachers can use MR technology to bring 3D models of objects into the classroom and allow students to work with them as if they were physically present. This teaching method gives students a better understanding of the material and enables them to explore concepts interactively.
An example of MR in business and marketing
The business world uses MR to help create better customer experiences. For instance, companies can bring 3D models of products into retail stores or even the workplace and allow customers to explore them as if the product were physically present. These models help customers better understand the product and provide a more engaging experience that can increase sales.
Product designers use MR to collaborate and generate shared content of the product in development for efficient and faster iteration cycle times (see image below).
Finally, MR also provides immersive training experiences for employees, allowing them to experience real-world scenarios in a simulated environment.
An example of MR in gaming
Game developers can add virtual elements that blend into the real world and make games more immersive. For example, in a game like Pokémon Go, players can catch and battle Pokémon, which appears in their physical environment as if it were actually there. That creates a heightened sense of reality and engagement, as players must actively search for the virtual creatures in their physical surroundings.
How mixed reality affects you
Mixed reality can potentially change our lives in ways we have never imagined. From creating immersive virtual experiences to streamlining workflow processes, mixed reality can help us achieve new levels of productivity and efficiency. It can also create more interactive, engaging environments that allow us to explore new ideas and unlock further creativity.
At a personal level, mixed reality can help us engage with the world in entirely new ways. We can use it to share experiences with friends and family or connect to places we’ve never been before. It can enhance our entertainment options, creating virtual worlds indistinguishable from the real thing. And with its capacity for simulation, mixed reality can help us learn new skills faster and better than ever before.
The possibilities that come with mixed reality are genuinely limitless. It’s up to us as individuals, however, to make sure that we use these new tools in a way that doesn’t infringe on the rights and privacy of others or put our safety at risk. Doing so can ensure that mixed reality remains a beneficial force in our lives.
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