What is Mixed Reality?

Mixed reality often gets lost in the shuffle between virtual reality and augmented reality. However, it stands on its own as a powerful medium in education, training, and entertainment. This blog will discuss mixed reality, what makes it different from other digital realities, and how it is being applied in our everyday lives.

What is mixed reality and how is it different from other realities?

Mixed reality allows you to manipulate digital reality and the real world simultaneously. It differs from virtual reality in that it does not create a new, immersive world. It is also different from augmented reality in that it does not place overly static data over an existing physical world (it places interactive data). It is in the middle between virtual and augmented realities. Or, for another way to look at it, it’s what would happen if virtual reality and augmented reality combined.

Mixed reality examples

Some examples of mixed reality include:

· Digital 3D modelling

· Holograms

· Virtual climbing walls/putting courses

· 3D projections

· 3D animations


Mixed Reality sits on the spectrum between augmented reality and virtual reality.

What is the mixed reality spectrum?

Often, when mixed reality is discussed, the words “mixed reality spectrum” come into play. The spectrum helps us understand the role of mixed reality – truthfully, since it contains both aspects of physical and virtual reality, it can be difficult to distinguish it from augmented reality. The spectrum helps with that.

On one end of the spectrum is physical reality. This is the daily world that you can see, touch, and interact with in real time. In the physical world, if you put your hand in a pool of water, the water ripples, your hand get’s wet, and you have impacted the world in a real, tangible way. For example, you may have disturbed sediment in the pond, causing a tadpole egg to drift a few inches. Next comes augmented reality. This is where you would walk up to the pond and, using a device, see data superimposed on it. The data could report that it is likely that frog eggs are in such a pond, it could list the flora and fauna typically around such ponds, or it might even be able to recognize and identify that flora and fauna for you. Now we come to mixed reality on the spectrum. This is where you could walk up to the pond and put your hand in it, and also (via a headset or device) see a projection of pond life and/or a mix of interactive data. You could reach out and “touch” a virtual frog and see it dive into the pond. You won’t feel the digital frog, but you’ll feel the water. The final step on the spectrum is virtual reality. There is no physical pond. The pond is an entirely digital creation. Using a headset, you can interact with the pond, but the physical world is in no way impacted.

Industry implication for mixed reality

Mixed reality has strong implications on several fronts. It is largely acknowledged for its potential in gaming, gamification, and education; however, it is also an important tool for industries like manufacturing, healthcare, and defence. Any time a dangerous job could be trained for in a safer manner, such as in a simulated operating theatre, the risk goes down. When it comes to training, the chance to interact with a virtual world increases the level of engagement and creates an opportunity for learner-centric training. Mixed with physical interaction with real-world tools, learners are able to activate muscle memory during their learning experience. It also eliminates the possibility for passive learning, making it a powerful training tool that helps learners better understand and retain information within the context of the job environment.

To learn more about adding augmented, mixed, or virtual realty to your training environment, or about socially distant meetings, contact us today.

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