What is Mixed Reality (MR)?
If you’re already familiar with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), then mixed reality, meaning a combination of the two, may not be a totally new concept to you. By using both technologies, MR creates environments that are a mix of digital and the physical world. Popular mixed reality devices include the Microsoft HoloLens, Meta’s Oculus Quest, and Magic Leap’s One.
The Benefits of MR
The advantages of mixed reality in today’s various industries include:
Communication and Collaboration
Mixed reality communication and collaboration take these interactions to the next level. Instead of meetings and events taking place using video-conferencing tools (e.g., Skype, Zoom, Google Meets) different departments can hold conferences in virtual offices or team building activities on a virtual island. MR can help attendees feel more connected and involved.
Enhanced User Experience (UX)
This technology is the most engaging on the market and there are no other types of media that offer such a personal user experience (UX). Mixed reality UX enables users to become fully immersed in their surrounding environment and are connected to a business’ powerful stories as they browse through various products and services.
Virtual reality and augmented reality have been able to showcase a business’s products and solutions. However, MR presents an opportunity for potential customers to actually interact and purchase what you have to offer. VR and AR technology is a great way to entertain and is definitely an attention-stealer but MR can monitor customers’ interactions with products and services as real-time data. After analysing this data, businesses can better understand how to improve operations, experiences, products, and services.
MR is a tool that can drive sales. AR and VR technology are already being used to digitally place products in an office space or home. Virtual try-ons are becoming more and more popular as well. This opportunity to see how products can be integrated into potential customers’ lives helps them decide quicker and purchase the right glasses, sofa, or pair of pants. With mixed reality’s potential to increase sales, it is no surprise that the retail industry has rapidly adopted this technology.
Top MR Applications
The best mixed reality apps and real-life applications include:
MR is already being used in education as a tool to enhance learning and information absorption. Simulations and three-dimensional projections are being used to personalize learning experiences by facilitating interaction and virtual object manipulation. By studying 3D objects, students are able to explore and deeply understand their subject of study.
An example of mixed reality for education is Microsoft’s initiative and creation of Windows Mixed Reality.
The healthcare industry can apply mixed reality in medicine by incorporating these technologies into education and training. Healthcare professionals can perform surgeries in real-time with mixed reality and make these life-changing operations an interactive experience as students tune into the emergency or operating room. AR and VR can also be used to create models of the human body which means that anatomy classes are more interactive compared to 2D images in medical textbooks.
For example, in the UK, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital has adopted Microsoft’s HoloLens.
Company workshops and training seminars can also become more interactive with mixed reality. With mixed reality, training and life skills can be taught in virtual environments and employees learn from first-hand experience instead of simply through lectures and presentations.
The RealWear HMT-1 is a wearable that can be used in training by providing voiceovers, diagrams, and manuals on certain topics.
Athletes can also benefit from using AR and VR in training. Virtual environments and being able to interact with 3D versions of their sports equipment can help them monitor their statistics and improve their performance. The sports industry can also use MR to host events and engage with athletes’ fans or sponsors.
The HawkEyeSports app is a virtual reality platform that is used to monitor line-calling decisions at big events like Wimbledon.
All industries that have shifted to remote working or hybrid set-ups will also benefit from MR technologies. Get-togethers, meetings, and projects can be done in virtual environments where products and work-related information can be showcased, discussed, and analysed. Popular VR and AR apps for remote working include Horizon Workrooms and Engage.
Political parties can also leverage augmented and virtual reality to campaign, share information, and reach out to people. Communicating with the masses with 3D holographs, hosting a virtual meet and greets, or delivering messages in MR environments are a few of the potential applications of these technologies in the political sphere.
An app developed for this purpose include InPolitixAR.
Interacting with potential consumers with virtual renderings of products and using augmented reality to inform visitors of the services you have to offer are a few examples of MR in business. AR app development is starting to pick up and offers businesses a new way of connecting with the public. Due to mixed reality, business SEO strategies will also evolve and include VR and AR technologies.
For instance, Warby Parker is using AR so that customers can virtually try on products before committing.
Showcasing properties using MR technologies is perhaps the most popular way that real estate will leverage AR and VR. In-person visitation will be optional as more homes and buildings are 3D renderings instead. Along with advancements in mixed reality, real estate is also going virtual. Metaverse real estate is booming with buyers investing in land in places like Decentraland.
Engineering, Manufacturing, and Construction
Another industry being transformed by mixed reality solutions is engineering, manufacturing, and construction. 3D models and project monitoring apps like SOLIDWORKS, Augment, or PTC, use this technology are empowering professionals by providing an environment where models, designs, and prototypes can be built. With mixed reality, construction and simulations allow professionals to tweak designs, spot a model’s weakness, and improve prototypes before structures are even built.
MR is changing the tourism industry as well. Tourists have the opportunity to “visit” countries and partake in virtual tours with AR and VR. Mixed reality travel gives tourists a taste of a potential vacation can help them decide between two destinations and ensure that they will get the most out of a tour.
Some travel apps include World Around Me and Google Earth VR.
Designers can take advantage of mixed reality technologies and put together the best interiors with AR and VR. Trying out how 3D versions of furniture and fixtures will look in a space can help designers optimise a space. MR can also provide models of different interiors so that clients can make the best decision for their homes.
For instance, IKEA’s Place is an app that enables users to virtually place products in a space.
One of the industries that are already utilising AR and VR in the entertainment industry. From games to movies, mixed reality in entertainment is creating interactive experiences that allow users to engage with virtual environments and objects.
Popular examples of MR in the entertainment industry include Pokémon Go and Netflix’s You vs. Wild.