Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have proved that they have the potential to change the way businesses use technology. Imagine the impact of being able to combine the two – being able to effectively merge the real and digital worlds.
Enter mixed reality (MR), technology that combines the virtual environment with the real world. Experienced via a head-mounted wearable display, users gain a real-time view of actual surroundings combined with an overlay of intelligent virtual objects that allows for new interactions through gesture and voice.
What is mixed reality?
What are the enterprise and consumer applications?
What are the current limitations and challenges of the technology?
How are mixed reality applications being used to improve the workplace?
Is mixed reality ethically neutral?
Ann Nolan - COO & Co-founder, Snobal
Luke Chadwick - Lead Engineer, REALABS (REA Group)
Tim Dwyer - Associate Professor, Faculty of IT, Monash University
MR is where AR, VR and the IoT collide or intersect. It involves taking digital objects – visualisations, virtualisations – and brings them into the physical world, giving digital objects physical characteristics.
MR is less obtrusive than VR as it allows its users to interact with tangible objects in a real environment, utilising overlaid augmented, digital content to create realistic scenarios.
Some analysts predict the value of the virtual market will be worth US$28 billion by 2020.
Consumer-facing applications for MR are limited. With more universally appealing content needed, immersive narrative-based storytelling has been flagged as an area that will likely lead to more users.
Enterprise applications of MR are being developed across many industries exploring use cases and pilot applications. Applications of MR for training and data visualization are proving to be game-changing.
Training and testing scenarios can be run in the digital world, creating a realistic digital copy of a set of circumstance that couldn’t otherwise be safely replicated, are costly to administer or not a true reflection of what a trainee will experience in the field.
MR is a game changer for data visualisation because it allows data to be more easily perceived, manipulated and interacted with. Situated analytics has applications for workplaces where workers may not have their hands free and need to access information quickly.
MR is hamstrung by current hardware. This includes uncomfortable headsets, being tethered and latency.
Current price point for headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens is hindering mass market appeal, keeping consumer level adoption and usage rates low.
A unique challenge is how children will interpret MR scenarios. With real environments colliding with virtual environments, there is the very real potential for children to have difficulty distinguishing between the real and virtual.
Image credit: Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality by Arturo Pardavila III