Mixed Reality Continuum

Screen shot of youtube video about Mixed Reality

One of the four recommendations of the 2017-18 PennImmersive Report was a challenge to shift our focus to physical/digital experiences rather than immersive technologies:

Recommendation 3: WIDEN THE LENS

The boundaries between virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D environments are elusive. Initially, PennImmersive focused on technologies. For example, we mentally filed Oculus Rift under “VR” and HoloLens under “AR.” However, as technologies evolve and converge, we need to broaden our thinking. We propose expanding PennImmersive to encompass the mixed reality continuum of immersive experiences. This reframing makes possible the inclusion of machine learning and robotics as well as the study of emerging competencies related to programming, algorithms, and blockchain, to name a few.


Adapted from Paul Milgram, Haruo Takemura, Akira Utsumi,& Fumio Kishino. (1995). Augmented reality: a class of displays on the reality-virtuality continuum (Vol. 2351, pp. 2351–11). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1117/12.197321

Mixed Reality Continuum

Diagram of mixed reality spectrum
If you’re still not sure what this means, you may find Steve Benford’s 10-minute explanation helpful (we did).

I think that things like augmented reality and virtual reality are not really different things. What they are is different experiences of the same thing — which is mixed reality. It’s tempting to think that you’re in just one of these. You’re either doing augmented reality — I’ve got my phone out — or doing virtual reality — I’ve got my Oculus on. But actually there are experiences that mix them up and move between them in really interesting ways.

We are shifting to more fully explore and understand the kinds of digital/physical experiences possible. How are they similar? When and why are they different? This motivation underlies this year’s Immersive Experiences (XP) Open House on November 7, 2018 [register to receive the schedule and a reminder].

PennImmersive XP Open House

We want to spotlight your projects, research, and working prototypes! Last year we had a number of inspiring immersive demos by students, faculty, and staff (see last year’s event blog post & photo album).

Demos in any of these areas are invited:

  • Augmented reality
  • Virtual reality & synthetic worlds
  • 360-video & photos
  • 3D scanning/printing/modeling
  • Internet-of-Things
  • Robotics
  • 3D data visualization
  • and anything else that you think falls on the Mixed Reality Continuum!

To participate as a Presenter/Demonstrator, complete this brief Call for Projects before October 19:

Even if you’re not presenting, be sure to Save the Date: November 7!


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