Technologies that will change the world: Mixed Reality

@Clara Rosales

Given how fast technology is evolving, we can’t say with certainty which technologies will change the world next.

Given how fast technology is evolving, we can’t say with certainty which technologies will change the world next.

We do, however, have some clues as to which fields of tech will reshape the way we interact with each other. Some of the hottest startups received record levels of investment in 2016 to develop virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technology.

Knowing the attention big players are paying to this field, we will be looking at a player that has caught our attention. The work of this company is expected lead to a fundamental shift in how we live our lives. Magic Leap, a company from South Florida, promises that “magic is around the corner” when it comes to their innovative technology.

The person responsible for this startup is Rony Abovitz, a tech entrepreneur with a background in biotech engineering. His experience in the biotech industry is the key to the product they are building, as they are basing their work around achieving collaboration between the human brain and technology.

rony-abovitz

Rony Abovitz (@Wired)

Instead of tricking the eye to see a virtual environment, Magic Leap’s technology works with a tiny projector that shines light into the eye through a transparent lens. The light merges so well with the visual cortex that it is hard to distinguish artificial objects from real ones. “We’re spending over half a billion dollars to effectively make nothing happen to you, physiologically,” says Abovitz. This marks a central difference between Magic Leap and similar technologies.

The company doesn’t have a beta prototype of the technology yet, and they are being very careful with the information that they are sharing. What we know so far is that it’s hard to understand how this technology will actually work, but what seems clear is that it will become a relevant breakthrough in this industry. Among their investors we can find Google, the Warner Brothers, and Alibaba.

It might be tricky to differentiate virtual reality from augmented reality, so here’s a quick definition for each of them:

Virtual Reality (VR)

VR is a technology that replicates real or imaginary environments and is generated by a computer. It also simulates the presence of the user, allowing them to interact with their surroundings.  

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR implies looking at elements of the reality being augmented or supplemented by computer-generated sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. A good and recent example of the application of AR would be the  Pokemon Go app.

Mixed Reality

Mixed reality uses semi-transparent goggles that overlap virtual elements and real elements. It’s technically the most complicated, using light fields to convince the human brain that the artificial elements the user is looking and interacting with are real. Based on the testimonies of the few people who have tried Magic Leap’s Mixed Reality Lightfield™, they are doing a great job.

The real change is that this type of technology requires the user to be present, whereas flat screens don’t. It’ll be a totally new way to experience film, live music, gaming, education, and so much more.

technologies_that_will_change_the_world

It seems clear that mixed reality has some challenges to overcome before it becomes widely available. With that said, we have no doubt that mixed reality will be the next big thing in the world of tech!