Unless you’ve been studying immersive technologies very closely, you may not have seen the rising use of the term Mixed Reality.
Everyone probably has a good idea of what Virtual Reality is all about. It’s the immersion of a user into a fully virtual environment, by means of a VR headset. Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift are popular solutions that enable this form of immersive experience (in conjunction with a number of controllers and sensors). When immersed in VR a user cannot see the real physical world around them.
Augmented Reality supplements your view of the physical world with additional information which may originate from online data streams, cameras or sensors. The Google Glass (now discontinued) was one famous example of an Augmented Reality solution.
There are also Augmented Reality solutions that utilise your smartphone or screens with an attached camera that supplement the camera video feed with additional information.
The term Mixed Reality (MR) has a number of meanings. A basic explanation of MR is that it embeds virtual objects in the real physical world. If viewed through a headset, smartphone or screen-based (e.g. LCD TV) solution, cameras and sensors are used to obtain an understanding of the physical layout of the space that a virtual object needs to be embedded in. This allows for example a virtual pot-plant to be placed on a physical table, or a virtual mask to be placed on a physical users face correctly. Popular solutions are Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap (which were initially referred to as Augmented Reality solutions) and applications like Snapchat that have lenses and filters which correctly overlay virtual objects onto the users face.
I’m currently developing a non-headset / non-screen based solution which I also refer to as a Mixed Reality solution. It fits with my definition of embedding virtual objects or 360 content into the real world, utilising sensors to detect and respond to user activity. Here’s a pic of me in my latest prototype. Being a person with no engineering experience it’s taken me extra time to manufacture the physical components but by learning from a series of prototypes I believe that I am quite close to a commercially viable design now. For a little more information, click here or contact me if interested.
Will Mixed Reality leapfrog Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality before those technologies become mainstream? Perhaps. You know where my time, effort and money is invested.