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Mixed Reality (MR)

Your constantly-updated definition of Mixed Reality (MR) and collection of topical content and literature

What is Mixed Reality (MR)?

Mixed reality (MR) refers to the blending of the physical world with the digital world. It allows the superposition and interaction between digital elements and the real-world environment to varying degrees. MR experiences can fall anywhere between the ends of the virtuality continuum. 

In MR experiences, the user is not bound to a screen and can interact with both the digital and the physical elements.

In the video below, you can see how digital objects interact with physical objects in an MR experience.

© Microsoft HoloLens, Fair-Use (link)

This video shows how MR experiences blend the physical and digital worlds. As you can see, the same experience would be different if the user was in a different place. The MR experience adapts to the user’s physical environment. Therefore, MR technology needs to get data from the physical environment to be able to construct the digital elements accordingly. MR requires advanced input methods and environmental perception.

MR includes any reality-altering technology and is not limited to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

AR vs. MR vs. VR. In AR, we see a digital robot superposed to a person. In MR, we see a digital robot shaking hands with a person. In VR, we see a fully digital environment where the robot and the avatar of the person are dancing.

In MR experiences the user can interact with both digital and physical elements. MR differs from AR—where digital and physical elements don’t interact— and VR—where the physical or real world is completely blocked out.

© Christian Briggs and the Interaction Design Foundation   

What is the Difference between AR and MR?

The main difference between AR and MR is that in AR experiences digital elements are overlaid on the physical world in real time but there is no interaction between them. AR technology allows the superposition of a digital layer on top of the physical world. Instead, in MR experiences digital elements are not only superposed upon the real-world environment but also interact with it.  

What is the Difference between VR and MR?

The main difference between VR and MR is that in VR experiences the physical world is completely blocked out. Instead, MR experiences blend the digital and the physical world to any degree. Therefore, VR technology completely ignores the environment which the user is in, whereas MR experiences process the environment which the user is in and include it in the experience. Similarly, in a VR experience, the user only interacts with the virtual environment, whereas in an MR experience, the user interacts with both virtual and physical elements. 

Learn More about Mixed Reality

Learn how to design your own XR experiences with our course: How to Design for Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Watch the How To Influence Behavior Through Virtual Reality Narratives on-demand Master Class by VR pioneer Mel Slater.

Literature on Mixed Reality (MR)

Here’s the entire UX literature on Mixed Reality (MR) by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Mixed Reality (MR)

Take a deep dive into Mixed Reality (MR) with our course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide .

If you’ve heard the term user experience design and been overwhelmed by all the jargon, then you’re not alone. In fact, most practicing UX designers struggle to explain what they do!

“[User experience] is used by people to say, ‘I’m a user experience designer, I design websites,’ or ‘I design apps.’ […] and they think the experience is that simple device, the website, or the app, or who knows what. No! It’s everything — it’s the way you experience the world, it’s the way you experience your life, it’s the way you experience the service. Or, yeah, an app or a computer system. But it’s a system that’s everything.”

— Don Norman, pioneer and inventor of the term “user experience,” in an interview with NNGroup

As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers several areas. When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to understand what those areas are so that you know how best to apply the tools available to you.

In this course, you will gain an introduction to the breadth of UX design and understand why it matters. You’ll also learn the roles and responsibilities of a UX designer, how to confidently talk about UX and practical methods that you can apply to your work immediately.

You will learn to identify the overlaps and differences between different fields and adapt your existing skills to UX design. Once you understand the lay of the land, you’ll be able to chart your journey into a career in UX design. You’ll hear from practicing UX designers from within the IxDF community — people who come from diverse backgrounds, have taught themselves design, learned on the job, and are enjoying successful careers.

If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention. That way, you’ll find it easy to continue your learning journey.

In the first lesson, you’ll learn what user experience design is and what a UX designer does. You’ll also learn about the importance of portfolios and what hiring managers look for in them.

In the second lesson, you’ll learn how to think like a UX designer. This lesson also introduces you to the very first exercise for you to dip your toes into the cool waters of user experience. 

In the third and the fourth lessons, you’ll learn about the most common UX design tools and methods. You’ll also practice each of the methods through tailor-made exercises that walk you through the different stages of the design process.

In the final lesson, you’ll step outside the classroom and into the real world. You’ll understand the role of a UX designer within an organization and what it takes to overcome common challenges at the workplace. You’ll also learn how to leverage your existing skills to successfully transition to and thrive in a new career in UX.   

You’ll be taught by some of the world’s leading experts. The experts we’ve handpicked for you are:

  • Alan Dix, Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University, author of Statistics for HCI: Making Sense of Quantitative Data

  • Ann Blandford, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at University College London

  • Frank Spillers, Service Designer, Founder and CEO of Experience Dynamics

  • Laura Klein, Product Management Expert, Principal at Users Know, Author of Build Better Products and UX for Lean Startups

  • Michal Malewicz, Designer and Creative Director / CEO of Hype4 Mobile

  • Mike Rohde, Experience and Interface Designer, Author of The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking

  • Szymon Adamiak, Software Engineer and Co-founder of Hype4 Mobile

  • William Hudson, User Experience Strategist and Founder of Syntagm

Throughout the course, we’ll supply you with lots of templates and step-by-step guides so you can start applying what you learn in your everyday practice.

You’ll find a series of exercises that will help you get hands-on experience with the methods you learn. Whether you’re a newcomer to design considering a career switch, an experienced practitioner looking to brush up on the basics, or work closely with designers and are curious to know what your colleagues are up to, you will benefit from the learning materials and practical exercises in this course.

You can also learn with your fellow course-takers and use the discussion forums to get feedback and inspire other people who are learning alongside you. You and your fellow course-takers have a huge knowledge and experience base between you, so we think you should take advantage of it whenever possible.

You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve completed the course. You can highlight it on your resume, LinkedIn profile or website.

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