By far, the crowning achievement of MR in 2016 was Microsoft’s HoloLens. Despite opportunities to improve FOV and the need to find a more marketable price point, the HoloLens is unlike anything we’ve seen before in the field of mixed reality and offers a world of possibilities for the future.
Like surround-sound for virtual spaces, positional audio ensures that users are hearing virtual characters from wherever they’re living within the environment. This grounds users in the world and adds to realism and immersion.
Every step away from abstraction is a win. While we use complex devices each day, such as a mouse and keyboard, controllers, or even touch screens, each requires the user to overcome an invisible barrier. The ability for devices to track our hands and simple gestures start to remove this wall, making more natural experiences possible.
Whether on the Microsoft Hololens or Google’s Tango, utilizing the 3D information of your surroundings is the magic of MR. As 3D scanning devices become cheaper, devices knowing where they are in context to other devices become the new standard.
MIXED REALITY VIDEOS
The best way to showcase a Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) project is with a Mixed Reality video. Pioneered by Kert Gartner for Owlchemy Labs’ Job Simulator, creators are only just tapping into the power of this jaw-dropping technique.
Imagine that you’re a detective who can live inside the memories of others. Using your Sherlock wit your office becomes the crime scene, requiring you to utilize a range of high-tech tools to uncover hidden truths. No other HoloLens experience showcases how remarkably personal MR experiences can be than this brilliant app by Asobo Studio.
POORLY GROUNDED VIRTUAL ELEMENTS
A drawback of MR in 2016 was definitely the tendency for virtual overlays to shake, move, or otherwise interact unrealistically with the environment around them. When a virtual element is not firmly grounded in the real-world, it looks fake, and users are instantly taken out of the immersive experience.
Considering all of the dynamic possibilities of positional audio, regular 2D audio in MR experiences just falls flat. To preserve the quality of immersion and keep up with the latest advancements in the industry, this trend should be left behind in 2017.
UX GROWING PAINS
Most Mixed Reality content is testing the waters. But this often paints a picture of a device incapable of deep experiential content. As new UI and UX techniques become standardized we’re excited to see experiences as rich and intuitive on our everyday devices.
While the HoloLens just launched for developers, the current content is mostly entry level demos (outside of Microsoft’s remarkable apps). We can’t wait for more to utilize the Ferrari of Mixed Reality with a diverse range of software in 2017.
With the success of Pokémon Go – however short-lived – we expect brands to explore the marketing opportunities that mixed reality offers. In 2017, we anticipate a wider range of MR applications geared towards generating sales and drumming up buzz for major companies.
Takeaway: We believe that a medium is only good as its content. That’s why we’ve committed to building AR, MR, and VR applications that explore new ways of thinking. Hundreds of thousands of downloads later, we believe the stage is set for Enterprise success when properly executed.