Mixed Reality

Mixed reality is a blend of physical and virtual worlds that includes both real and computer-generated objects. The two worlds are "mixed" together to create a realistic environment. A user can navigate this environment and interact with both real and virtual objects.

Mixed reality (MR) combines aspects of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). It sometimes called "enhanced" AR since it is similar to AR technology, but provides more physical interaction.

Mixed Reality vs Virtual Reality

Virtual reality provides a virtual experience that is completely digitally created. A user can enter a virtual world by putting on a VR headset that includes audio and video. As the user moves his head, he can look around the three-dimensional space. A VR headset may also come with gloves or handheld sticks that can be used to interact in the virtual environment. Unlike virtual reality, mixed reality starts with a physical space and places virtual objects within it. A user can interact with these objects without wearing special gloves. A VR headset is totally black when it is turned off, while an MR headset is see-through like a pair of glasses.

Mixed Reality vs Augmented Reality

Mixed reality is closer to augmented reality than virtual reality. Like MR, AR uses a real environment. It "augments" reality by overlaying virtual objects on top of it, such as a Snapchat filter. However, the user cannot interact directly with virtual objects. For example, AR has the capability to display a virtual 3D box on a physical table. With MR, the user might be able to pick up and open the box.

AR only requires a handheld device that has a camera and screen, such as a smartphone. Since MR enables the user to interact directly with the 3D environment, it requires a head-mounted display, such as Microsoft's HoloLens.

Mixed Reality has several applications, such as virtual training for police, remote guidance for construction workers, and virtual testing for engineers. While still in the early stages, MR can also be combined with robotic technology. This could allow a surgeon to perform surgeries remotely.

Updated March 15, 2019

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