Convergence: Mixed Reality = Virtual Reality + Augmented Reality + IoT

Marian Cook

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"Let us live for the beauty of our own reality." — Charles Lamb, English poet, 1775–1834

According to Wikipedia, mixed reality (MR), sometimes referred to as hybrid reality, is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. And the Internet of Things (IoT) is providing an accurate read-out of the current physical reality as a foundation to be mixed with virtual and augmented realities.

As Wikipedia notes, virtual reality (VR), also known as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, is a computer technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a user's physical presence of that environment in a way that allows the user to interact with it. Minecraft and Oculus Rift are examples of this.

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called computer-mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one's current perception of reality. Pokemon Go would be an example of an AR.

By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one. Augmented reality is conventionally in real time and in context with environmental, such as sports scores on TV during a game.

The difference between mixed reality and augmented reality is grounding digital objects into physical environments. It's reading them there as opposed to just being able to see them and interacting with them in a way that is naturally understood.

How does the Internet of Things fit here? With IoT, we're seeing the objects around us become more intelligent and providing more data about the physical world. The price of sensors has dropped, and they are being placed everywhere. This means the ability to understand and interact with the physical environment in new ways is increasing exponentially.

The past has been limited by the ability to interact with technology through two-dimensional spaces and screens.
Breaking down those barriers with IoT-based VR and AR allows new possibilities for collaboration, business processes, workflow, education, and new product development. Global teams can collaborate on a single object from different perspectives and expertise in a way that can be shared in real time.

Imagine taking an idea or vision and inserting it into a real or imagined reality . . . this takes 'what if' ideation and scenario-planning to a whole, new level. Warren Bennis once said that leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. Mixed reality can be a tool to help make that happen.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

Marian Cook is currently a solutions principal for Slalom Consulting, as well as the head facilitator for MIT's blockchain certification course and a strategic advisor to the Chicago Blockchain Center. Immediately prior, she was the chief strategy officer for Innovation and Technology for the State of Illinois, having moved from the private sector to public service in 2015.

She started as a systems engineer with IBM, re-engineering processes, implementing systems, and creating business and technology strategies. Moving to international consulting firms, she worked globally, developing business growth and turnaround strategies, as well as the client side as the head of IT for a top healthcare organization.