Mixed Reality also referred as ‘Hybrid Reality’ is a combination of both virtual reality and physical reality which creates a completely new environment where both physical and digital objects co-exist & interact in real time. Due to the advancement in technologies such as computer vision, graphical processing power, input systems and display technologies it is now possible to encompass both the physical world and the virtual world via immersive technology.

Mixed reality has its roots in the early 1990’s when the first immersive mixed reality system called Virtual Fixtures Platform was developed at the US Air Force’s Armstrong Laboratories.  Though the term Mixed Reality was first coined 4 years later in a 1994 paper by Paul Milgram & Fumio Kishino, “A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays”. In this paper, they elaborated the concept of Virtuality Continuum & how displays are categorized in the taxonomy.

Mixed Reality basically breaks down the barriers between physical and virtual reality. It comprises of all the spectrums of situations which spans the continuum between virtual reality and actual reality. It includes augmented reality where the virtual augments the real, & augmented virtuality, where the real augments the virtual and the various configurations which fall within virtual reality & Real Environment.

Virtuality Continuum

Source: Wiki

Towards the left (near physical reality): Here the user remains in the physical environment and is kept in a dilemma that they have never left the real environment.

In the Middle (Fully mixed reality): This is the part where the real world completely blends with the virtual world it will give you a similar experience as it was depicted in the movie Jumanji where the physical structure of the house where the story took place was completely blended with the jungle environment.

Towards the right (near virtual reality): here the users experience the complete digital environment and are unaware of what happens in the real environment around them.

Applications of Mixed Reality

MR has its application quite similar to that of Augmented Reality. However, it has its major application in the field of education at the moment.

Military Training

It is used to simulate combat battlegrounds for military training using HMD’s.

Real Estate Virtualization Environment (RAVE)

RAVE is used to simulate 3D models of manufacturing assets incorporated into a virtual environment and then linked to real-time data associated with that asset. e.g. Kevyn Renner of Chevron Corporation has won the US Patent (8,589,809, B2) for “Methods and systems for conducting a meeting in virtual environment” on November 19, 2013.

Remote Working

Employees can work in collaboration and tackle organizations business challenges no matter where they are physically located all they have to do is strap an immersive headset and enter a collaborative virtual environment. It also reduces language barriers as AR applications can translate languages in real time.

Interactive Product Content Management (IPCM)

IPCM enables users to migrate from static product catalogue to more interactive 3D digital replicas.

Simulation-Based Learning

e-learning is long gone now it’s time for s-Learning. It’s a scientific fact that we remember and learn things better in an immersive form than from just reading them. Visual memory is the easiest and memorable form of memory.

The above are the few examples of MR applications which we know today along with this, MR is also used in the field of Healthcare, Aviation, Medical, & Business etc. The true potential of the technology is yet to be explored. Companies such as Microsoft with their HoloLens and Acer with their MR Headsets are investing heavily in the Mixed Reality. Mixed Reality is no doubt the future technology which will change our complete perception of technology as we have it today. I am with them, are you?