As the world moves closer to the digitalisation of all aspects of daily life, it seems fitting to adopt mixed reality into the mix. Mixed reality blurs the line between physical and virtual worlds; including both real and computer-generated objects.
Its ability to conjoin physical and digital realities has an explicit impact on the ability of entrepreneurs to adapt to sudden market changes – like a pandemic. In many ways, mixed reality helps businesses adapt to working from home.
A user of mixed reality can navigate the realistic environment and interact with both real and virtual objects. Augmented and virtual reality are probably springing to mind – and they should as mixed reality combines aspects of both AR and VR whilst simultaneously allowing for more physical interaction.
Virtual reality generates a completely digital environment which is entered by putting on a VR headset that includes audio and video to experience a three-dimensional space. Building on this experience, mixed reality starts with a physical space and places virtual objects within it. This sounds incredibly similar to the effects of AR.
AR ‘augments’ reality by overlaying virtual objects on top of reality. Think, Snapchat filters, PokemonGo, and IKEA’s mobile app. However, users of AR have limited interaction with virtual objects. Whilst AR might display a virtual box on a physical table; mixed reality might allow a user to pick it up and open it.
We’ve seen a growing use of early developments of mixed reality in its testing phases across the education and healthcare sectors. Students can have an enhanced learning experience as they interact with virtual objects and teachers can instruct students remotely by using 3D projections and simulations. Microsoft’s HoloLens was used by the University of Ohio to teach autonomy to medical students.
As thousands of schools across the world closed their doors to pupils in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, these solutions provide promise to the continuation of effective learning as the next best thing to face-to-face teaching.
In the medical realm, doctors, nurses and practitioners can view and share patient records in a more interactive way than 2D would allow. There are exciting possibilities for taking medical scans out of computers and into the real world in order to manipulate them to plan for treatment. The applications for mixed reality in healthcare are vast.
But what about in the wider business community? How can mixed reality assist entrepreneurs in adapting to changes in market conditions?
Adapting to Market Changes with Mixed Reality
The rise and fall of supply and demand, volatile commodities, natural disasters, and of course global pandemics, all play a role in shifting market conditions. Most recently, the threat of the spread of COVID-19 around the world has forced many businesses to close and has prompted many to work from home where possible. The pandemic has affected anticipated demand, supply chains, and prices. Between cutting costs and reallocating business resources to adapt to these changes, the application of mixed reality has a role to play in helping entrepreneurs adapt to sudden market changes.
A global pandemic isn’t the only thing capable of forcing businesses to close the doors of physical stores and offices. In fact, no one can anticipate such sudden shocks to the market and should have a plan in place to allow for effective remote work. That’s where mixed reality comes in.
Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of keeping remote teams connected to prompt collaboration. Using mixed reality, employees from any company can liaise with colleagues and clients from distanced locations.
Whilst Zoom meetings and Skype calls can keep people communicating through remote working, mixed reality takes things a step further. Remote presentations and demonstrations can be brought to life with MR- allowing for more interactive sessions than would a Skype call allow. Language barriers can be seamlessly broken down by using translation applications in real-time and members of a team can be brought together to work on a single project.
Laboratories and workshops can be accessed from remote locations, overcoming the challenges that come with remote work. NASA worked with Microsoft to create the OnSight software which helps scientists and engineers transport themselves virtually to Mars whilst remaining on Earth.
The first thing entrepreneurs need to put in action to combat any sudden change in the market is the training of staff. The application of MR here is twofold. First, as with the pandemic, business operations across all industries were disrupted and new methods put in place. Nearly every industry could use mixed reality to help train employees on decided new methods or to figure out best practice. Second, as entrepreneurs come to realise that their team can operate profitably whilst working from home, many are preparing to make the change permanent.
Thanks to the sophisticated capabilities of mixed reality allowing for a very realistic experience, training staff virtually is highly effective and can save valuable time and money. BAE Systems used a mixed-reality approach to helps its factory workers visualise the steps in the battery-building process. Meaning, there was no need for hundreds of members of staff to be present at any single workshop or demonstration. A similar application was seen when Japan Airlines used a HoloLens to train engineers without having to be present at a hangar.
MR allows companies to do 3D modeling remotely on any project before spending on materials, production and labour. Which in turn, saves money and time – crucial assets in times of change and uncertainty.
Whilst much of mixed reality is still in its early phases of development, such examples shed light on what’s to come and the business opportunities that follow. When the market changes, so too must entrepreneurs; and mixed reality enables a strategic, cost-effective and timely way to adapt.
About the Author
Daglar Cizmeci is a serial investor, founder and CEO with over 20 years’ industry experience in emerging tech, aviation, logistics and finance. He has graduated from the Wharton School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Daglar Cizmeci is a Chairman at ACT Airlines, myTechnic and Mesmerise VR. He is CEO at Red Carpet Capital and Eastern Harmony and also Co-Founder of Marsfields, ARQ and Repeat App.1