What is MR – from a developer

What is MR - from a developer

Mixed Reality (MR) – a combination of of both the physical world and virtual world elements. Along with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), MR is a part of the Extended Reality technology family. Mixed Reality does not immerse the user into a virtual world like VR, and does not show Augmented Reality content on a flat screen. Instead, MR is meant to revolutionize the way we view the world as we live our daily lives. According to Microsoft, XR can be explained on a virtuality continuum (shown below), where the physical world is on one side of the spectrum and the digital is on the other. Mixed Reality can exist in-between and be closer to Augmented or Virtual reality depending on the type of device, while still retaining the fact of still being Mixed Reality. In this post, WeAR studio explains all such nuances of Mixed Reality.

What is MR - from a developer
Virtuality continuum, in the case of MR.

Mixed Reality Technology? Compared to VR and AR, MR is a much newer and less-explored medium of Extended Reality, but still a very promising one. Unlike a VR device, MR devices show you the physical world, but with the addition of some graphics and visuals. 

There are mainly two types of Mixed reality devices:

  • Holographic – the physical world is still seen through the glass, with the implementation of 3D imagery into the user’s field of vision.
  • Immersive – the real world is hidden, the display is not transparent, but the user’s can still feel presence via the visual experience and sound.

The aforementioned are the most widely known MR head mounted devices – Microsoft’s HoloLens and HoloLens 2 series, as well as Samsung’s HMD Odyssey+,  Magic Leap, and others that are being developed in the present day. There are also talks of developing MR contact lenses, but that is still a long shot from being widely used like the head mounted sets. Basically, MR glasses can provide PC desktop-like images directly into the user’s line of vision. All that is needed to power these devices is access to Microsoft Windows 10 PC and an application installed on it. Most recently, at the tech world expo CES 2021, Lenovo also announced a Mixed Reality head mounted device – ThinkReality A3 smart glasses. This headset is meant to ease the user’s workflow at a desktop computer, especially for those who are prone to multi-tasking and absorbing streams of information. Mixed Reality allows users to interact with the digital content without any additional devices, just by using hand gestures or voice to control the information on the display.

What is MR - from a developer
Microsoft HoloLens 2

Uses of Mixed Reality? As XR is making waves across industries, MR is no exception. Since MR is the most seamless blend of the physical and virtual realms, it is a perfect solution for many industries. For example, anyone dealing with complex engineering tasks would benefit greatly from having necessary instructions for critical decision-making right in front of their eyes – a concept that is now used in France’s Renault engineering factory. Workers who used to rely on paper instructions for their work are now using HoloLens 2 glasses in order to carry out complex projects and repairs. Not only does such MR technology free a worker’s hands from unnecessary movement, but also allows for visualization inside one’s field of view like never before. Similarly, car-manufacturing giant – Ford uses MR to prototype its vehicles before stepping to the building processes. With its flippable visor mechanic and long lasting battery life numerous companies have benefited from this new technology, especially those with a large engineering sector.

A similar use case of the same HoloLens 2 is at Airbus. They have reported a 30% acceleration in  complex assembly tasks as well as 80% less time needed for design validation. According to the company, “Digital information, such as instructions or diagrams, can be overlaid on a real piece of machinery to aid in complex or hard-to-reach tasks”, which has allowed Airbus to cut manufacturing time by a third while assuring better quality of production. Additionally, the company’s trainees are able to study using this partly-immersive environment without relying on actual machinery or aircrafts, but still being fully secure in their new skills. A Mixed Reality training setting can serve as a more inclusive learning tool than real-world training, as well as complete safety. The success of the collaboration between Airbus and Microsoft HoloLens 2 has opened more opportunities for other organizations to try out such technologies in their practice. These types of technologies work great for various business operations but are not yet widespread for personal use since the prices are not consumer-friendly. However, as the XR industry continues to 

What is MR - from a developer
HoloLens 2 in use at Airbus.

Did the prospects of Mixed Reality solutions pique your interest? What about exploring more MR use cases on our blog such as elevator technicians using HoloLens and Microsoft’s experiment with MR Holograms. If you have any questions about MR or any other XR technologies – you can check our Youtube channel. Do not hesitate to contact us at Wear Studio via email hello@wear-studio.com or via the message system on this page. 

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