Will 2017 Be the Year of Mixed Reality?

Last year, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) generated a lot of buzz, but this year a new “reality” is setting in. Although these technologies are similar, there are some key differences. Virtual reality brings users somewhere else using goggles or closed visors, blocking out the real world in the process so they can attend exclusive events, play games, or even ride roller coasters. It has also helped sick children to virtually escape the hospital environment and enjoy more pleasant surroundings.

Augmented reality, meanwhile, places digital content right on top of the actual environment that is right in front of users by adding 2D or 3D layered content to it. Last year’s blockbuster mobile game Pokemon Go illustrated just how receptive consumers are to this technology.

More Complex and Realistic than VR and AR

However, many experts believe that 2017 will see both of these technologies pushed aside for a third variant: mixed reality (MR). This is a more complex and realistic way of interacting with the world, allowing users to overlay holographic digital content onto the physical space right in front of them to create scenarios. It scans the physical environment and maps it three-dimensionally so the device will know where the digital content should be placed, and then users will be able to interact with it.

There are many different ways it might be used. Medical students can enjoy more thorough and realistic views of anatomy and interaction with the human body. Holoportation can bring users to different countries to interact with people virtually in the same space. A collaboration between the NFL and Microsoft Hololens will transform the ways that fans can interact with football players, games, and advertisers.

While some of this technology is already available, smaller devices at more affordable prices need to be developed on a wide scale before mass adoption can take place. 5G networks are also needed for a smooth experience, and big improvements are expected to be made in this realm this year.

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