Reality Check: 3 Things We’re Excited About in AR, VR, and Mixed Reality

Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of our integration with ByteCubed is our team’s ability to provide more comprehensive and cutting-edge solutions to current and prospective clients. While ByteCubed has been toying with augmented, virtual and mixed reality for a while—and we’ve been fascinated with the topic ourselves— the recent acquisitionof holographic training platform PRE GAME PREP and the launch of ByteCubed Labs represents a huge leap in bringing leading-edge advanced and experiential technologies to market at scale.

In this blog, ByteCubed head of UX Jordan Higgins sheds some light on the origins of experiential technology, where it’s heading and a few things on our mixed reality radar.

Mixed Reality: Why now?

There’s a perfect storm brewing where the combination of low-cost but performant hardware and content creation tools are empowering more people than ever to create engaging, immersive experiences that blend the physical and digital worlds in ways we’ve only really seen in science fiction.

Alex Kipman, Microsoft Technical Fellow and inventor of the Kinect and HoloLens remarked in an interview that “the phone is already dead. People just haven’t realized.” His belief is that phones will ultimately be replaced by some sort of mixed reality device that provides a more natural mobile computing experience. Looking around any crowd of people—at a concert, in a coffee shop, on the metro—who are all glued to their phones may make this claim seem unrealistic, but consider for a moment the original mobile phone…

Since the release of the first mobile phone in the 1983, we’ve seen a dramatic uptick in device capability and affordability. People from diverse backgrounds are finding ways to incorporate immersive technology to enhance use cases that would be impossible with traditional computing platforms, such as visiting and working together on other planets.

NASA scientists mars

NASA scientists explore the surface of Mars in mixed reality

There’s never been a better time to explore what augmented, virtual and mixed reality can offer. Following are the top three thing we’re excited about today:

Mixed Reality: Exciting Developments

Spatial Computing

As one of Microsoft’s early Mixed Reality Agency Partners, ByteCubed has been working with spatial computing since the release of the first HoloLens and continues to make major plays in the immersive and experiential technology today. Spatial computing can be defined as interacting with digital content as if it existed in the physical environment. Holograms exist in three dimensions, and can be locked to a specific real-world location. This digital content can have the same properties that we associate with physical objects – they can respond to our voice and gestures, and can emit and respond to audio. Our interaction with this digital world can be almost identical to that of the physical world—take for instance how we’re using it to provide professional athletes with immersive, interactive training experiences—or we can formulate an entirely new set of rules for how the worlds we create behave.

Until recently, the Microsoft HoloLens has been the only standalone, wearable computer that enables a spatial computing experience—that is, until we recently added the Magic Leap One to our immersive collection. Different form factors and capabilities may make one platform more appropriate for one experience over another, but we can help you explore this new frontier in experience design.


Microsoft Hololens & Magic Leap One

We’re already eagerly anticipating the next generation of these devices, which are expected to have even more powerful capabilities such as more robust graphics processing, improved ergonomics, on-board machine learning and enhanced computer vision.

Standalone VR

oculus go

Oculus Go

There’s a lot of excitement in the immersive world about the arrival of standalone, low-cost VR headsets. Until now, significant barriers to adoption have included the complexity and performance of expecting people to set up their phones in mobile VR headsets, as well as the cost and complexity of high-end systems that require external sensors, expensive powerful computers and cords. Lots of cords.

Standalone devices like the Oculus Go ($199-$249) and Lenovo Mirage Solo ($399) provide powerful mobile VR experiences, and are significantly simpler and less expensive than smartphone-powered platforms. On the horizon are devices like the Oculus Quest and HTC Vive Focus, which will provide even more powerful standalone immersive experiences.

What does this mean? It means VR for training across an entire enterprise is finally within reach—exemplified by Wal-Mart’s recent deployment of 17,000 Oculus Go headsets to train their employees in their stores.



Let’s go to Mars!

WebVR is an open JavaScript API that enables rich virtual reality content to be experienced within modern, compatible browsers. It enables support for all major immersive platforms including Oculus, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, Google Cardboard and Daydream, as well as familiar desktop and mobile web browsers.  Mozilla is a leader in the WebVR community, and recently released the Firefox Reality browser that is optimized for Oculus Go, HTC Vive and Google Daydream. Mozilla also supports A-Frame, a powerful web framework for creating VR experiences using familiar HTML-style scripting. Amazon has committed to WebVR with the release of Sumerian, a web-based authoring tool for immersive content that leverages AWS and other Amazon services. WebXR (extended reality) looks to expand capabilities into augmented reality applications.

Mixed Reality: What’s next?

One of the best things about these new immersive technologies is that they let us craft experiences that aren’t limited by traditional 2D devices and interaction patterns. We often think about these new, exciting tools as though they were superpowers. In that same vein, consider how experiential technology could be expanded into the following larger-than-life abilities:

  • Super-hearing: enhanced spatial audio
  • X-ray vision: holographic content that lets you see through walls and surfaces, including visualization of data from IoT sensors
  • Telekinesis: the ability to move holographic content with gestures, or even activate physical mechanisms through gesture, voice or gaze interactions.

What are your thoughts on the future of immersive technology? Share them on Twitter, and subscribe to our newsletter for more insight into what’s trending in experience-driven tech today.

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