What is Mixed Reality?

Posted on April 17, 2018

We all know virtual reality. At this point, you probably have already heard of augmented reality, if not tried it yourself. But what is Mixed Reality? Although the term may sound self-explanatory, immersive enthusiasts have coined it as the merging of “real” and virtual worlds. Mixed Reality (MR) provides a platform and computing system for the physical and digital to coexist in real time.

Don’t miss out on an exclusive, behind-the-scenes presentation with the most innovative Microsoft developers and designers at forefront of cutting-edge tech. In this month’s speaker series, Mark Vitazko / Designer at Microsoft, Kat Harris / Technical Designer at Microsoft, and Yoon Park / Principal UX Designer at Microsoft will share with us their creations and ambitions for the future.

Microsoft Mixed Reality AltspaceVR Microsoft

Day 1 > What is Mixed Reality?

April 20, 2018 from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM PT
Speaker: Mark Vitazko / Designer at Microsoft

Windows Mixed Reality is an amazing new experience combining the thrill of virtual reality with a phenomenal sense of presence.


Day 2 > Building apps for Windows Mixed Reality

April 26, 2018 from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM PT
Speaker: Kat Harris / Technical Designer at Microsoft

With the new immersive headsets joining the Mixed Reality family. The HoloToolkit has grown and evolved to become the MixedRealityToolkit. Learn what you can do with the new changes to the system with Kat.


Expanding the Design Process for Mixed Reality

Day 3 > Lessons learned from Microsoft Design and the Mixed Reality Partner Program

May 3, 2018 from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM PT
Speaker: Mark Vitazko / Designer at Microsoft

Learn how the Microsoft Design team designs unique experiences for Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens. We’ll cover techniques and skills to add to your design process to help your team think spatially and more easily envision mixed reality experiences.


Day 4 > An indie developer/designer’s journey from 2D apps to 3D Mixed Reality

May 10, 2018 from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM PT
Speaker: Yoon Park / Principal UX Designer at Microsoft

Yoon will share his personal story on designing & developing apps for HoloLens and immersive headset. The project is based on his love for typography — he created it to encourage people to experience, learn and play with typography in physical and virtual 3D space, using HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality devices.


Windows Mixed Reality

Windows Mixed Reality inspires potential across various fields beyond gaming and entertainment. It will ignite creative and practical futures for industries such as the health sector, architecture, manufacturing, STEAM, interior design as well as education amongst many others. Across the board, industries will often turn to technology to revolutionize their fields in efficient and imaginative ways.

Find yourself at the center of everything.

#AMAwithWMR | Windows Mixed Reality Guest Speakers

 #GetSocial with Mark Vitazko, Designer at Microsoft

Q1. What is Mixed Reality?

Mark Vitazko: We are trying bring the digital world into the physical world. That sounds vague [laughs]. But once you’re in an environment and you start seeing data— it becomes super apparent. A lot of these abstract concepts around smart environments and smart objects, they start to become really interesting.

On the HoloLens side, you have the ability to walk around a space as the digital world seeps in. Immersive technology allows you to reimagine your environment. It’s the ultimate training ground to imagine scenarios. The technology helps people better themselves at what they do. Some of the most exciting stuff is happening in the medical space. For instance, Mixed Reality is being used to train doctors.

Q2. What skills do creators need to create Mixed Reality content?

Mark VitazkoHonestly, you just have to be flexible. You have to be open to using new tools and new techniques. Some of the most successful developers we’ve seen in any kind of AR/VR stream are coming from different industries. For instance, architects are jumping into the idea of immersive spaces and how people connect with new environments. We’ve seen people with theatre backgrounds have success in creating stories that consider the space around individuals. These people are taking what they already know about humans interacting with spaces and applying it to this new medium.

You have to be flexible with the tools. We’re all using tools that were built for something else. A lot of the techniques we’re finding are the most useful are not necessarily 3D tools like Unity or Maya but going back to the fundamentals. Can you sketch out how an idea takes places in a 3D space? Can you use physical components around you to convey these ideas to others?

Q3. What are three common traits of a Mixed Reality creator? 

Mark Vitazko: You have to be comfortable with ambiguity. A lot of times people have this idea in mind, they think it’s solved and then once they prototype— it fails. Test your assumptions early and often!

You also have to be willing to wear a lot of different hats. If you’re a developer and all you do is live and breath development, you’ll get frustrated quickly. You have to be willing to jump into design. You have to be willing to jump into audio design, into asset creation, into usability. The medium requires so much flexibility, not necessarily mastery of everything but a willingness to understand these skill sets and grow your own.

And third… [laughs] patience.

#GetSocial with Kat Harris / Technical Designer at Microsoft

Q1. Tell us, what is Mixed Reality? And is it you do at Windows Mixed Reality?

Kat HarrisOh wow, that’s a lot [Laughs]. Let’s start off with who I am. My name is Kat Harris and I am a Technical Designer on the Research and Development team for Mixed Reality at Microsoft. What is Mixed Reality? MR is an umbrella term for current interactions in virtual reality and augmented reality. It is the mixing of the digital and physical world. In a sense, all of our inside-out tracker immersive cameras are taking data from the physical world to provide one-to-one tracking in the virtual world.

For the HoloLens, it’s overlaying this digital data with the physical world. Mixed Reality is the spectrum of interactions of physical and digital realities. It’s easier to explain with visuals [laughs].

Q2. What is your presentation about?

Kat Harris: I’m going to show creators how to take the old HoloToolkit scripts  and update it to the new Mixed Reality Toolkit available on GitHub. The new toolkit is an open-source set of tools and scripts that people can use in Unity to build for the HoloLens. The input system has changed to create a more modular set-up to get started.

Q3. How accessible is the Mixed Reality Toolkit to creators and developers?

Kat Harris: Our goal is to make the toolkit easy for people to work with Mixed Reality. Creators can build in Mixed Reality with minimal coding knowledge. The components work within the Unity Game Engine. They are meant to be clicked and dragged into your scene to get people up and running as quickly as possible.

Everyone can create great MR applications on their own without having to struggle with inputs models. The Mixed Reality toolkit is accessible to all creatives, whether they are designers, artists, sound engineers, or developers. Anyone can create in Mixed Reality.

We want the MR space to be as open as possible. It’s the future. We want to make sure we’re creating tools for everyone and all industries. By providing the community with solid foundations for these components, it makes it easier for creators in the medical field, game development, art, architectural field to take this toolkit and create their own applications.


#GetSocial with Yoon Park / Principal UX Designer at Microsoft

Q1. What inspires you about engineering and design?
And then how does Mixed Reality fit into all of this?

Yoon Park: I have always been passionate about visual graphic representation. Even while working as a software engineer, I found myself returning to art and design, exploring specifically typography and the design of type. This is one of the main reasons why I decided to change my engineering career path. After going back to school to study graphic design and typography, I started working at Microsoft as a designer.  For the past seven years, I have been designing Window apps for several different platforms.

When I joined the Windows Mixed Reality Design team, of course, the first question that I had was ‘How can I build an app for HoloLens?”. As a personal project, I built an app called ‘Typography Insight for Hololens’ to help people to experience and play with beautiful holographic type in the physical space. I’ll be sharing this journey during my presentation about ‘Designing Typography Insight for Windows Mixed Reality’ in AltspaceVR.

Yoon Park AltspaceVR MicrosoftYoon Park AltspaceVR Microsoft

Q2. Tell me more about this app, “Typography Insight for Hololens”?

Yoon Park: By using the Hololens app, you can lay out type in physical spaces and the environment. I made this app so you can play and lay out type in your real-life, physical space. It can be used in architectural design or to design a logo type on a book cover. The app allows you to look at the type from different angles. It’s a real fun experience.

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