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What is mixed reality?

Mixed reality is becoming a more common term in the tech industry, with companies such as Apple developing new headsets dedicated to the technology. 

But what actually is mixed reality? And how does it differ from other technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality? We’ve created this guide to answer all of your burning questions on the topic. 

So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about mixed reality. 

What is mixed reality?

Mixed reality is a term used to describe the merging of your physical surroundings with virtual objects. Imagine wearing a headset that allows you to see the room you’re standing in, but then augments alien monsters floating above your furniture. 

This is mixed reality in a nutshell, differing from virtual reality since it isn’t completely immersing you in a virtual world – it’s grounded in reality instead. 

As a result, mixed reality has far more uses beyond entertainment, as it’s arguably a better option than VR for engaging with productivity or business applications. It also enables you to engage in normal activities, such as typing on a laptop or talking to a friend, while simultaneously benefiting from virtual features. 

Mixed reality is very similar to augmented reality, in that they both project virtual objects into a physical space. But while augmented reality can be used with a smartphone or tablet (think Pokemon Go), mixed reality instead requires some sort of headset.

There are a number of mixed reality headsets already available to buy. The Meta Quest Pro is one of the most recent examples, featuring highly detailed cameras at the front that allow you to see your surroundings.

And while other VR headsets also feature colour passthrough, the likes of the Pico 4 are still not considered to offer mixed reality experiences since the vast majority of the supported apps only focus on virtual spaces. 

Mixed reality seems to have a bright future, with multiple big-name technology companies working on headsets of their own. Apple is one of the most noteworthy, with the hotly tipped Apple Glasses expected to arrive in either 2022 or 2023. 

Google also gave us a sneak peek at the benefits of mixed reality earlier this year, demonstrating that future headsets could be able to break down language barriers by translating conversations in real time. 

In fact, Google was one of the very first companies to introduce mixed reality to the world with its high-concept Google Glass device. However, Google cancelled the project before releasing it to consumers.

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