Mixed reality (MR) is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations, where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality does not exclusively take place in either the physical world or virtual world, but is a hybrid of augmented reality and virtual reality. To mark the difference: Augmented reality takes place in the physical world, with information or objects added virtually like an overlay; Virtual Reality immerged you in a fully virtual world without the intervention of the physical world.
There are many practical applications of mixed reality, including design, entertainment, military training, and remote working. There are also different display technologies used to facilitate the interaction between users and mixed reality applications.
Simulation-based learning includes VR and AR based training and interactive, experiential learning. There are many potential use cases for Mixed Reality in both educational settings and professional training settings. Notably in education, AR has been used to simulate historical battles, providing an unparalleled immersive experience for students and potentially enhanced learning experiences. In addition, AR has shown effectiveness in university education for health science and medical students within disciplines that benefit from 3D representations of models, such as physiology and anatomy.
From television shows to game consoles, mixed reality has many applications in the field of entertainment.
The 2004 British game show Bamzooki called upon child contestants to create virtual “Zooks” and watch them compete in a variety of challenges. The show used mixed reality to bring the Zooks to life. The television show ran for one season, ending in 2010.
The 2003 game show FightBox also called upon contestants to create competitive characters and used mixed reality to allow them to interact. Unlike Bamzoomi’s generally non-violent challenges, the goal of FightBox was for new contestants to create the strongest fighter to win the competition.
The first fully immersive mixed reality system was the Virtual Fixtures platform, which was developed in 1992 by Louis Rosenberg at the Armstrong Laboratories of the United States Air Force. It enabled human users to control robots in real-world environments that included real physical objects and 3D virtual overlays (“fixtures”) that were added enhance human performance of manipulation tasks. Published studies showed that by introducing virtual objects into the real world, significant performance increases could be achieved by human operators.
Mixed reality allows a global workforce of remote teams to work together and tackle an organization’s business challenges. No matter where they are physically located, an employee can wear a headset and noise-canceling headphones and enter a collaborative, immersive virtual environment. As these applications can accurately translate in real time, language barriers become irrelevant. This process also increases flexibility. While many employers still use inflexible models of fixed working time and location, there is evidence that employees are more productive if they have greater autonomy over where, when, and how they work. Some employees prefer loud work environments, while others need silence. Some work best in the morning; others work best at night. Employees also benefit from autonomy in how they work because of different ways of processing information. The classic model for learning styles differentiates between Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic learners.