Mixed Reality is the perfect blend of interactivity, immersion, and intelligence.
We are on the precipice of the fourth industrial revolution, where the boundaries between the real and digital worlds grow more and more indistinguishable through the interconnectivity of technologies . At the forefront of this transformation is Mixed Reality. Mixed Reality blurs the line between both physical and virtual worlds through immersing users in an environment where both real and programmed objects can coexist and interact with each other.
While still in its infancy, global powerhouses like Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all investing heavily in this technology, touting it as the future of computing. If history is any indication, industries able to adapt, and, even better, adopt this paradigm shift will thrive, while those incapable of change risk becoming extinct.
Pulling Apart Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Realities
There’s still some debate as to whether Mixed Reality should be considered different from Augmented and Virtual Realities, or whether it is in fact an umbrella term for all of these technologies. The prevailing view is that Mixed Reality takes the best of Augmented and Virtual realities, delivering the immersion and engagement of one with the commercial viability of the other, respectively.
While there has been plenty of hype around Virtual Reality, limitations around cost, headset style, and feasible business applications have kept both consumers and industries from embracing it en masse.
Augmented Reality, on the other hand, has already changed the way businesses operate and engage with their consumers, with growing enthusiasm from both manufacturing and retail industries. Its success is, in large part, due to its interactivity function. AR enables computer-simulated images and information to be superimposed on real world objects when viewed through a tablet or smartphone. This allows companies to communicate relevant digital content to the viewer that directly corresponds to the object in front of them.
Similar to Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality keeps users grounded in the real world while layering pertinent digital content on top. However, as with Virtual Reality, users will view their surroundings through a headset, in this case, translucent glasses, eliminating the need for any tablets or smartphones, and creating for a more hands-on, heads-up experience.
The most compelling aspect of Mixed Reality is its enhanced interactivity, which enables users to connect with digital content through the use of natural body movement. No more clicking, swiping, or even voice commands. Users are able to handle virtual objects as though they were right in front of them. Mixed reality is intuitive, using the surrounding environment as its digital inputs, taking into account the user’s position, the physical surfaces and boundaries around them, as well as lighting, and sounds.
Once Mixed Reality spills into popular culture, brands and retailers can engage consumers like never before. With Mixed Reality, any object can become a next-generation website, filled with 3D content that users can touch, hold, speak to, and learn from . Utilizing try before you buy practices, brands can influence purchase decisions and trigger spending through virtual, whether it’s trying on a t-shirt, touring a hotel room, or test-driving a car.
Mixed Reality will give brands the ability to customize the user experience using individualized consumer preferences and purchase history. With this connectivity between products and consumers, brands will have access to an increased amount of consumer insight, allowing for enhanced real-time targeting and retargeting.
Brands can cultivate stewardship and improve customer service through creating virtual communities where their consumers can interact with brands, or each other, using digital avatars.
In-house, Mixed Reality can foster collaboration across different lines of businesses and regional offices, creating virtual conference rooms where participants can interact and view the same objects and presentations as if they were physically together.
Looking further down the supply chain, businesses can create operational efficiencies by presenting data in an easy to digest format. Using Mixed Reality, employees will have the ability to visualize new products, equipment and operation tasks with an overlay of additional data or instructions.
Where to Start with Mixed Reality
With widespread consumer adoption, brands can expect more opportunities to connect with their target market. However, brands should be weary of message overload as consumers may be turned off from the significant amount of content that will be thrust in front of them on a daily basis.
Mixed Reality experiences are most effective when they are personalized and true to a brand’s personality. When investigating how this technology can meet the growing demands of your business, ensure it is integrated into the existing business infrastructure versus having it work in isolation. Continue exploring present day Augmented Reality solutions in both product and retail to get ahead of the curve when Mixed Reality becomes mainstream. Lastly, when it comes to Mixed Reality solutions, remember to start with blue-sky thinking, in this realm concepts are only as limited as your imagination.