With the advancement of technology, it has become possible to create environments virtually through the use of computers. Here ‘virtual’ means not physically existing but made to appear by software. Mixed Reality refers to the relationship between the real environment and a virtual environment, with them being the two extremes. Mixed reality technology allows users to interact with real objects in a virtual world, or with virtual objects in the real world instead of fully committing to one medium. The reality-virtuality continuum has four states, with the two extremes being the real environment and the virtual environment. Towards the side of the real environment, augmented reality (AR) is found. AR is the subcategory of mixed reality that refers to virtual objects being merged into the real environment. Similarly, on the opposite side, Augmented virtuality refers to real-world objects being merged into virtual worlds. The applications of this technology are far reaching, and even with the early stages of development we have now, a plethora of use cases have been developed and some are even available for public use.
Virtual reality can be used in planning civil engineering projects or geodetic surveying by mapping a virtual terrain using elevation data of the terrain, which can be obtained using scanning technologies such as 3D laser scanning Gladstone. This allows the users to take more precise measurements by incorporating minute details like the curvature of the Earth and small gradients as well as take measurements without external factors such as temperature and humidity affecting the instrument calibration.
This is possibly the most widespread use of mixed reality, and one of the few commercially available for use by the public. Video games have been an early adopter of virtual reality technologies, and this has led to the development of several critically acclaimed titles. Despite the most popular medium being VR, there are certain AR games which lean more towards simulation than entertainment. Regardless, entertainment is one of the leading beneficiaries from mixed reality technologies.
Mixed reality has proven extremely useful in the education field, especially in areas which involve practical study such as medicine and mechanical engineering. Augmented reality allows the instructor to generate an image of a specimen or mechanical component at any magnification and allow the students to study it in detail. Distance learning is also made easier with mixed reality as it allows students and instructors to create a classroom in the virtual space despite every member being separated physically. Virtual reality is also extensively used in training drivers and pilots, before they are allowed to use actual vehicles.
Manufacturing of all scales make use of virtual reality with the ability to create mock-ups and demonstrate the final product before production starts. This allows adjustments and preliminary testing to occur with minimal wastage of resources. More advanced simulations can be used to test the product against various conditions such as planes and drones being tested against wind forces. Interior designers also use VR to determine lighting techniques and develop ventilation systems.