The New Face of Manufacturing: “The Power of Mixed Reality”


No doubt you’ve heard about technologies that use the word “reality’ in their description – “Augmented” Reality, “Virtual Reality”, and now – a technology that is sometimes referred to as a combination of both – “Mixed Reality”.

To do a quick technology review, Augmented Reality is an application that will enhance (or make greater) a real-world experience, using computer generated elements. Augmented Reality is applied in “real-time” to actual objects and experiences. This allows the technology to “layer” other elements to provide the illusion that they’re in the same space and time.

Virtual Reality, which replaces a real-world experience with an artificial one, gives the user a feeling of immersion in a totally artificially created environment, which along with the aid of a headset, specialized software and sensors, allows this “created” reality to become your reality. In the newest technology, users explore anywhere within their 360-degree field of vision, transported by the sights and sounds of audio piping through the headset, and can even reach out and interact with the artificial objects in the environment through the use of specially designed controls.

To date, the biggest application of VR technology has been in the area of gaming, while AR has been able to find a much wider range of application, albeit maybe a bit less visually exciting.

Enter “Mixed Reality”. MR is a technology that brings together the best features of VR and AR. Just like AR, Mixed Reality allows the user to experience the “real world” around them – but then also allows them the chance to experience virtual objects (as in VR) that are attached to fixed points in this real- world environment. Because of the “mixing” of these two technologies, users can interact with these virtual objects as if they were real.

So what does this mean to industry – particularly to Manufacturing? I’m sure you’ve heard of the old saying that “time is money”. Well, nowhere is this more important than in the realm of Manufacturing. Most products today are made in automated factories. Many are being run around the clock.

According the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), US Manufacturing still accounts for almost 9% of total employment in the United States. In areas such as home state of Connecticut, this number is 10%.

A few ways that Mixed Reality applications have emerged to assist the Manufacturing vertical include:

  • Allowing Data Collection to become “visual”: companies go to great expense to gather data in the manufacturing process, MR has the ability to better connect workers on the factory floor with important information that can be displayed as “visual overlays”. This process will enhance machine efficiency as well as increase quality control.

  • Continuing Education and Training: Training in a “mixed reality” environment increases safety standards, since workers are practicing in a simulated environment. Additionally, because the training is done in a virtual environment, expensive-to- operate stand-alone training facilities become obsolete. Companies can save on transporting workers to these training facilities, wear-and-tear on the equipment used, and still create a learning environment that is far superior to traditional classroom methods. The added benefit of MR training is the ability to retain all of the benefits associated with real-world “learn-by-doing” curriculum.

  • Create Mixed Reality instructions: What if that Ikea shelving unit you just bought had a way for you to interact with an overlay of assembly instructions? And also, better still – how will it look in my home, and will it fit in my desired space? These are just some of the questions that Mixed reality applications are poised to provide answers for.

There are many other ways that Mixed Reality applications will soon be enhancing the manufacturing process as well as end products produced – To begin to develop a customized strategy that maximizes and better monetizes your company’s manufacturing processes, contact us today at sales@quastmedia.com.

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