‘Mixed reality’ emerges as new growth area for Orlando firm

An Orlando tech company that builds virtual reality-based training systems has made a push into a fast-growing field that combines the technology with augmented reality.

Known as “mixed reality,” it allows two people wearing headsets in different real-world locations to work “alongside” one another in the same virtual world, seeing the same images and in the same settings.

The technology could improve remote training, as instructors can provide feedback or manipulate the same virtual objects a student sees.

That form of instruction could stick with students better than conference calls or online-based instruction, said Howard Mall, Engineering & Computer Simulations’ vice president of engineering. Industry research, he said, shows simulated training increases retention.

“The more engaging an experience, the more it will be readily remembered,” said Mall, whose company has built mixed-reality modules for automotive, military and medical applications.

The recent growth of mixed reality, along with the continuing development of virtual and augmented reality, could strengthen Central Florida’s economy. The region is home to hundreds of simulation-based military defense contractors and video game developers, many of which incorporate VR and AR into their products.

As its sophistication grows, mixed-reality technology can open new applications, such as interaction with real-world obstacles.

A player using the Pokemon Go app, for instance, might have critters change sizes based upon distance or hidden from sight by a desk until the player turns a corner in the real world — unlike the game’s current format.

The emergence of Microsoft’s Hololens VR platform has helped make virtual, augmented and mixed realities accessible to more people, said Greg Welch, a professor at the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training. It’s easy to take out of the box and use…

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