Within the different variants of the Metaverse, the hybrid modality, also called Mixed Reality, offers extraordinary potential. Much has remained of the Metaverse as an immersive 3D environment accessed through glasses that isolate you from your surroundings, but perhaps even more critical is the mixed reality environment. In it, without abandoning the real world, and thanks to transparent glasses, technology superimposes virtual elements that expand our experience. So today, we are discussing mixed reality and the technology that will make it possible.
To date, we can classify the Metaverse into three different types, each with its potential, although one of them is somewhat transitional:
The Three kinds of Metaverse and Their Implications
1) Flat screen and 3D environment. On the same flat screen computer or tablet, we enter a 3D world in which we can interact. It is the most common today but will soon give way to the other two. The technology that makes it possible is WebGL, which allows the rendering 3D environments on flat screens.
2) Mixed or hybrid reality. In the fact that we move, thanks to the technology of special glasses, layers of added virtual information project. This variant combines augmented reality and virtual reality, it is mighty, and we will see it grow in the next two years if Apple launches the device that makes it possible throughout 2022.
3) Virtual reality in immersive environments. It is about entering a virtual world, isolated from reality, where we live 3D experiences with other people. It is made possible, like the previous formula, by OpenXR technology, a standard that allows the use of Virtual Reality platforms and devices, and in this case, Virtual Reality glasses or helmets added
The Enormous Potential of Mixed Reality
The ability of fully immersive environments to generate a kind of universe parallel to the current one opens up great horizons for entertainment and gaming experiences. Moreover, since the Metaverse is eminently social, experiences lived with other people through avatars. However, its main limitation is that it is a space of isolation from the natural environment.
However, hybrid environments in which the user does not abandon their reality but enriches it through augmented reality glasses have enormous potential to encompass large masses of the population because everyone wants to improve their natural daily experience. At the same time, at the moment, it is not yet the desire of the entire population to immerse themselves in a parallel world.
So, except for Gen Z, who love anything resembling an immersive experience and stay targeted by companies that provide a parallel 3D environment, the rest of the users will probably be familiar with the mixed reality experience first.
Mixed Reality Technology
What will be the point of no return where, just as with virtual assistants today, most of the population will embrace the Metaverse? Many think that the critical moment will be when Apple launches its Apple Glasses, which other manufacturers will soon imitate and make mixed reality possible.
The first thing to say is that, although Apple is also working on a Virtual Reality headset (the one that enables the immersive experience), the Apple Glasses will look normal.
However, they will also have some powerful technology: computing, 5G, cameras, projectors, waveguide lens, and a compressed battery that allows for a full day of operation.
Another critical element is the Operating System. A company called Realityo Systems LLC, rumored to be a screen of Apple itself, has registered reality with two requests between August 2021 and January 2022. This operating system would, hypothetically, be the one that Apple would carry Glasses
There are many doubts about the launch date because different sources have considered 2020, 2022, and 2025 as possible dates. However, according to inevitable leaks, the glasses have already been presented internally at Apple, and their launch could be this year.
Other Technologies That Enable Mixed Reality
The most important is the Apple Glasses, but other companies have released different prototypes.
Is the case, for example, of Intel, with its Vaunt glasses, which have a normal appearance, weigh less than 50 grams, and in which the technology is not visibly appreciated (as was the case with Google Glass). Instead, they use a certain VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser) technology to launch information towards your retina with a faint red hue, and -according to their manufacturer- they are not intrusive in your social life. You can see them in operation in this video.
Another example is Oppo’s Air Glass, suddenly present at the Mobile World Congress 2022 in Barcelona. Air Glass formed like a monocle that fits over the wearer’s regular glasses. They have a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear4100 processor and have achieved a battery that can last for a day with a charge of just 10 minutes.
Most of these prototypes naturally have an app to configure and control the device.
These are just two examples of the attempts of different manufacturers to enable mixed reality. Still, it seems that it will not be until the arrival of the Apple Glasses that this technology will give a definitive boost.
If, as rumored, Apple decides to launch them this year, the following years will see a massive push in implementing the Metaverse.
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