In recent years, various kinds of movies or dramas based on VR or AR technology have been produced. For example, the protagonist in Iron Man checks his condition on the display in his suit. Also, in the film Ready Player One, all characters enter into the virtual world by wearing a headset. However, as more versions develop, MR is in the spotlight to entirely change our society.
MR is an abbreviation of mixed reality, a technology that mixes VR(Virtual Reality) and AR(Augmented Reality). VR uses 100 percents virtual images. A specially made goggle-shaped headset is essential to experience the virtual world. Recently, VR has become more familiar to us as lots of VR experience centers have popped up all over the country. On the other hand, AR shows necessary information through display technology. Pokemon Go is a simple example of this. Through our smartphones, Pokemon seems to exist beyond the device in 2D.
Moving forward, however, MR creates a space that merges the two worlds: the real world and the virtual world. This technology interacts with users by mixing virtually generated information, such as computer graphic information, sound information, haptic information, and odor information in real-time. It is considered as the next-generation information processing technology that maximizes usability and efficiency.
The Korean drama Memories of the Alhambra is well-known for the protagonist wearing a particular contact lens, which uses MR technology, to fight against medieval knights who actually don’t exist in the real world. In 2016, Microsoft introduced devices that can interact with reality through “hololens,” a wearable holographic computer. Unlike AR, it does not require smartphones and PCs. In addition, it does not only display AR and virtual information in real-world space, but also identifies real-life space and object information and puts it on a 3D hologram.
Not just as shown in fantasy dramas, MR technology will affect our lives in positive ways as well. First of all, it is projected that, with this technology, we will be able to watch virtual TV, have a chat with a friend’s holograms, collaborate on our work with foreign companies, and work more easily and conveniently with virtual manuals for complex machines. Moreover, with the development of mixed-reality technology, medical students can learn anatomy through hologram lenses without bodies. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) has also introduced MR to provide astronaut training, which can significantly reduce costs and time by skipping the clay modeling process for many complex machines, etc. In addition, BMW has decided to use MR in their vehicle design development process. Those activities, also called immersive technology, generally offer an immersive experience. Immersive technology refers to all technologies related to how people interface with the digital world, including interactive platforms, VR, AR, and MR. These technologies will change the way people perceive the physical world, which is called immersion experience.
However, to utilize MR technology, we have to process a huge amount of information. This is not enough for today’s telecommunication networks. That’s why it is important for 5G to be commercialized. It is much faster than 4G, known as LTE, and safe from hacking. Currently, a few countries are struggling to commercialize 5G. When it comes to Korea, you can often see advertisements by telecommunication companies that are planning to commercialize 5G. South Korea currently achieved to be the first to commercialize 5G in the world.
Some doubt that we need 5G because LTE is enough to fulfill the demands of the Internet. In the event “The first 5G commercialization in the world will begin in Korea,” held on April 8, President Moon Jae-in mentioned that 4G is fast ‘so far,’ but will not be fast enough at all soon. The more households become more technology driven, such as with smart refrigerators, washing machines, as well as Internet and TV needs, the more data communication will be required. Moon also noted that the number of areas that use data communication such as self-driving cars and smart factories is increasing rapidly, but current telecommunication networks are prone to be overload. That’s why a fast and widespread 5G network is needed. He announced that the Korean government and the private sector will invest more than 30 trillion won to establish a national 5G network early in 2022 in Korea. Also, they will foster new 5G-based businesses and services such as network equipment, next-generation smartphone robots, drones, intelligent CCTVs, smart factories, and smart cities.
As virtual technologies continue to develop, we can begin to imagine how the world will change. It’s time to recognize them and be ready to take full advantage of all they have to offer.