The Benefits of Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality (MR) is defined as the combination of the physical and virtual worlds that encourages natural interaction between both worlds. This means that users can interact with the digital world, while the digital world is reacting to both the user and its physical environment. Microsoft’s Hololens (one of the leader MR headsets) is able to map out the user's environment by means of spatial mapping which allows the holograms to interact with the surfaces of the environment. Hololens mixed reality also provides users the option of using their gaze, voice, and a air tap gesture to interact with their surroundings to provide the users a natural experience. Hololens users can also connect with each other to share the same MR experiences. This brings interactivity to a new level and allows MR to be an organic platform for interaction.

Hololens takes note of the environment the user is in and sets the boundaries for the holograms to use. Spatial mapping allows the holograms to navigate around a room, allows the holograms to interact with real world object, and to show the user spatial definition of their room. An important benefit of MR is the occlusion of holograms to real world objects, which helps the user to receive a more natural experience as they notice objects are being affected by their environment. Occlusion occurs when a hologram appears masked behind another object. The importance of occlusion is further emphasized by the navigation of holograms. Hologram adhere to the same rules as a person by avoiding walls or impassable surfaces and navigate around said objects or any points of obstruction. Spatial mapping helps the holograms interact with the environment, but the users use their voice, their gaze, or a air tap gesture to interact with the holograms.

One of the main ways to interact with a hologram is through the user’s gaze. With the Hololens the user’s gaze is similar to a mouse as it will have a pointer that would adhere to the surface a user is focusing on. Upon gazing at a item, a user can simulate a mouse click by simply tapping on the hologram. This will either activate an event on the hologram or provide the user with some sort of interaction option, such as moving the hologram in the environment. Gestures are way the users interact with the virtual world. The gestures can provide rotation, zoom, menu navigation, and placement of the holograms. And lastly, there are voice commands. Voice commands can provide the same functionality as gestures, but the interactions are executed through voice commands. The various interactions with MR doesn’t stop with user input it is further expounded with user connectivity with one another to help create and share content.

Hololens receives a significant amount of their MR content through the means of connecting with various users at once. An example of a shared experience with Hololens is the video chat service Skype. Skype allows user to interact with their environment on physical objects through the means of sketches. Hololens has divided their shared experience into 3 classifications in collaboration, presentation, and guidance. The collaboration experience is best described as more than one person creating content and experiencing it at the same time. The presentation experience is defined as several users being shown the same content. An example of guidance is similar to the Skype interaction mentioned previously where there is a user working on Hololens content and another individual is making edits inside of Hololens through the means of third party programs.

Hololens benefits from Mixed Reality as it is able to combine the digital world and the user’s world. Hololens sets the boundary and rules by using its spatial mapping to provide the area for the holograms to interact in. The Hololens allows the user to interact with the holograms through the means of gaze, hand gestures and voice input. And with the connectivity between users through presentation, collaboration, and guidance it allows the Hololens experience to be shared with users no matter the difference of their environment.

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Written by
Brandon Greene 05 Jun 2017

3D and Unity specialist.

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