Dear DD, what is Mixed Reality?

doctor-digital-question
Doctor Digital

Doctor Digital Says:

Nearly 4 billion people worldwide are mobile users, actively using smartphones every day. A little over twenty years ago, mobile phones weren’t a daily reality. Technology’s growth is rapid and in the true sense of the word, exponential. It is fair to say that many of us globally are deeply embedded with tech. How it will look and the way we use it will be significantly different ten to twenty years from now.

The rapid rise of immersive experience mediums like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is shaping where technology is headed to next. Where VR and AR are currently informational and consumed on screens, the next wave of immersive experiences is shifting towards the experiential. Instead of bringing more of the physical world into our digital screens, technology is primed to take digital data and place them in our actual environment through using Mixed Reality. Mixed Reality (MR) is a combination of multiple advanced technologies, primarily Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. To understand why MR is combined (beyond humans being lazy confabulators of language), let’s define and differentiate VR and AR.

Virtual Reality: using VR devices, the user’s current reality is replaced within the virtual world. It doesn’t account for the user’s immediate surroundings, thus it is usually recommended to use VR technology in spacious environments where the user won’t accidentally bump into something in the physical space. By design, it isolates the user from their context in order to provide an immersive experience. Current examples of VR devices in the market are the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Augmented Reality: this technology overlays digital content on top of the real world experience. It doesn’t account for your surroundings, nor interacts with your space. Simply AR rests on top of any surface, with the physical world acting as a static background for it. AR can be accessed through apps built with AR capability , and through wearable devices like Google Glass.

Mixed Reality: Unlike AR that simply overlays digital elements on the physical space without considering its unique and changing composition, MR enabled devices gather information about surroundings. This information is used to seamlessly place digital content and information on the physical space and allows the user to interact with it as though it. Voila. MR. The possibilities and implications of Mixed Reality’s continuous growth indicates that the future of MR is both realistic and limitless.

There are certain early adopting industries where the uptake in MR is evident, both in existing use and companies, products and services already in development.

Healthcare and Medicine: Mixed Reality simulations are already helping medical students understand their patients better, particularly those who are hearing and visually-impaired. Through MR technology, the patient experience is simulated, leading to greater empathy and understanding from medical practitioners. Doctors, especially surgeons can learn complicated surgeries and develop new cutting-edge procedures in real world feeling situations, allowing them to plan and predict outcomes. MR is also being used with first responders, helping them better prepare for work scenarios safely and without risk.

Education: Experiential education is one of the most effective learning and teaching tools bringing real world context to new knowledge. Through Mixed Reality, students are able to interact with what they’re learning unlike ever before. It’s not just visual, audio, or traditional learning methods that will enable students to learn, but actual experiences that promote deeper, immersive learning. Mixed Reality may also be used in the future to expand on Virtual Reality’s work with immersing people in different cultures, raising awareness to causes in a way that bolsters greater empathy. People will be able to learn about other cultures, social, political, and economic concerns in near first-hand experience through Mixed Reality.

Retail and Business: Many possibilities await businesses who adopt Mixed Reality technologies, like providing augmented reality maps to customers for better understanding and access to their stores, access to unprecedented information as they walk through the aisles, and product and service experience before purchasing. Next level players will see the potentials in the sales of virtual goods and services to populate a mixed reality world.

The future of Mixed Reality may mean that we will only need a single device to replace our screens. This will initiate new ways to create content, as well as new ways of consuming it. As other disruptive technology, MR will create more industries and more jobs, while transforming existing ones. What feels new now, will be seamlessly integrated in the future as a way of life. Businesses need to look to how their customers experience can be enhanced by the technology, and how their products and services can be transformed.