“Mixed reality will unleash the creativity of every person and every organization on the planet. Forever change the way you collaborate, create, learn, and play.” – Microsoft
PS interviews Daniel McAvoy from Microsoft about how future technology may impact the way we present and engage.
What is the difference between VR, AR and MR?
Virtual reality (VR) is when the entire visual perception is replaced by a digital one, there is often a headset and controllers. Different headset devices can offer different experiences, some more natural and advanced than others.
Augment reality (AR) is a merging of the digital and physical worlds where a user can see the physical space around them (often through lenses or a screen). The augmentation is when the device adds something digital into that space. Good examples are holograms or information feeds.
Mixed Reality (MR) is the term we use to describe the group (or hybrid) of experiences. Similarly, to how we would talk about boats (unrelated non-tech example), I would talk about boats and then the type of boat such as a yacht or a speedboat to describe the experience. We talk about MR to describe the field and then about the experience as VR or AR to identify the experience.
Mixed Reality Spectrum
Which industries are currently embracing this technology?
Industries embracing MR technologies are wide and diverse because MR experiences are immersive and give perspective in ways we have only been able to access by being there in person.
Design: An architect can build a 3D render of a space and move through it digitally in an immersive VR experience or display it in a room so that others can view before a build
Healthcare: Users can experience settings in varying degrees of realism to reduce anxiety in high-stress situations or confront phobias.
Workplace optimisation: An organization can have a development firm build an application that replicates a user’s workspace in a digital space.
Exciting applications towards education, gaming and experiences also come to mind and are only just beginning to reach main-stream.
What are some of the business benefits to Mixed Reality?
Mixed Reality has a wide array of business benefits, in particular when it comes to conceptualisation and collaboration.
A lot of work goes into planning, whether it is a school building a new gymnasium or a manufacturing plant. Seeing and moving through a plan in MR before construction begins, can give context to a plan before it is approved or actioned. Similarly, conceptualising a product in an online purchase scenario can help an end user imagine how that product would work for them. Imagine being able to gain context before making your next purchase from the web! Specialists in fields such as aviation and construction can have information displayed in front of their eyes with Mixed Reality technology.
Why makes the HoloLens so special / unique?
The HoloLens is the first fully enclosed Mixed Reality PC headset, it works with gesture and voice and it is unique in the way that it can bring digital experiences seamlessly into the real world.
Do you think that HoloLens (or any other applicable device) can impact presentations?
Absolutely. Mixed Reality technologies can have a huge impact in conveying experiences and communicating information.
Whether it is to emphasise story, to overcome a lack of knowledge in your audience or any of the myriad of difficulties a presenter can run into when designing an experience, MR devices can add so much to a presentation. There are obvious constraints to how many devices you can supply to an audience, but when it is applied, a presenter can quite literally take their audience on a journey and explore a topic in new and immersive ways. Whether it is the entirety of a presentation or a small part, we will definitely see MR experiences in future presentation spaces.
What will ‘presentations of the future’ look like?
Right now, I can sit in my office and join a conference or participate in a presentation from a distance which works well but I don’t get the context from being there. MR can help bridge that gap between distant and being present. I imagine the media we use during presentations will evolve, the use of 3D assets and viewable to complement our conversations, (alongside how our audiences interact with content) will improve with the introduction of MR technologies.
What’s next for this tech?
That all depends on how the technology can best serve our customers. The Microsoft mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. We are guided by that goal and the feedback we get from our customers helps mould our future products, I am excited to see what’s around the corner!
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