The Spectrum

Reality. Everything that is. This, according to Schnabel, even includes a thing that has or has not been “created, designed, observable or comprehensible,” you could argue that this includes images or information generated by the control of electrons on a circuit, but for simplicity we will ignore this. Until we have a world where the “real” and “virtual” mesh in a convenient way the distinction still holds, Only when the full spectrum is exploited can the continuum collapse and all things can be seen as real and work can flow smoothly.

For now though, “real” is not all there is. The new Mixed Realities include Augmented Reality, Augmented Virtuality, Mediated Reality, Virtuality…, but what exactly do all these mean? Where do they fall between what is real and what is virtual?

This is the spectrum of Mixed Reality as defined by Marc Aurel Schnabel,

The classification of Mixed Reality technologies allows us to talk about them in meaningful and convenient ways. It is easy to understand if we are referring to a physical element entering the digital world or a digital element entering the physical world. This distinction becomes important when deciding what the applications are for certain technologies. For example, do you want to collaborate with a team member who is hundreds of miles away, or are they in the next room? Does a client want to explore their future building before it is built? Is it a new building sited on an empty field or an addition surrounded by other buildings? Is the application for the beginning stages of design or construction administration? I’ll save the definitions and examples for later posts, it is enough for this one just to provide a way of mapping Mixed Realities.

It is easy to see that Augmented Reality is not the only technology. The correct terms should be used where appropriate to avoid confusion and to legitimize these technologies to the general public. When done right and given real utility, mixed reality technologies are far from gimmicky toys. Combined, they allow us to collaborate efficiently and across any distance. They create important feedback loops throughout all stages of design and even into construction. Our imagination and power to iterate as designers will be unhindered as we effortlessly move between real and digital. This freedom can only be achieved by exploiting the full spectrum of the new Mixed Reality. New technologies will revolutionize the way we store and access information, how we work, how we collaborate, and possibly most concerning for many, how we play. For a more essentric glimpse into this future check it this article over at Big Think.