“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”
With mixed reality taking off in popularity, the answer to Freddie Mercury’s eternal question might just be a little bit of both. One of the most promising tech innovations of the past few years has been the rise of mixed and augmented reality. We’ve seen the latter explode to become one of the most transformative entertainment experiences in years, lending itself to everything from Pokémon Go to enhanced museum tours.
But what about mixed reality? It’s far less widely understood than augmented reality, and yet has quite a bit to offer in its own right. So what are the differences between the two, and what does mixed reality, in particular, have to offer?
Mixed versus Augmented Reality
A common mistake is to conflate mixed and augmented reality. While the two certainly share technical similarities, they are distinct in their execution of how they create their differentiated realities. The easiest way to think about it is that while all augmented reality is mixed reality, not all mixed reality is augmented reality.
Pokémon Go is an example of augmented reality. It uses a screen, is triggered by real-world locations, and has players interact with Pokémon appearing on the screen as a result of those programmed real-world triggers. By contrast, virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus are not triggered by anything in the real world, and are thus not augmented reality, but are nevertheless examples of mixed reality.
Mixed Reality Applications
With that in mind, let’s take a look a few different mixed reality applications such as the following:
- Education: Using MR in education seems like a natural step. It can be used to project images of everything from maps to animals and much more, allowing students to see and interact with 3-D models of a given subject.
- Wearable Computers: Google Glass may have been a bust, but wearable screens and visors may still be beneficial for industries such as the medical profession, where they can be used to enhance a surgeon’s view of a surgery.
- Video Calls: Remember the holographic calls made by characters in Star Wars? With MR technology, that may not be far off from coming to a galaxy not so far, far away.
Mixed reality, far from fantasy, looks to play a key role in our future.