3 reasons to be excited about Mixed Reality (part 3)

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Meta Quest 3 will bring mixed reality to the masses and open up new ways to share experiences with others.

I’ve defined mixed reality as the ability to bring digital elements into the physical environment, or to blend the real and the virtual, while the goal of virtual reality is to completely immerse you.

In parts one and two of my three-part series, I identified and explained two reasons why mixed reality will be a reality turning point for the medium.

First, it adapts more easily to everyday life, making the technology easier, safer and faster to use, which will help it reach a new class of (casual) users. Second, it enables new kinds of experiences that incorporate the physical environment, which in some cases could be even more immersive than virtual reality.

here is the third and final reason I’m excited about mixed reality and maybe you should be too.

Local multiplayer

Nearly five years ago, Meta demonstrated an exciting new way to play VR games at their conference.

Oculus Connect 5 participants were able to join each other in a 4,000 square foot arena and compete against each other in a western scenario using Oculus Quest. The technology shown supported the co-location of headphones AND mapping of the virtual world to the physical one.

While this concept was seen as extremely promising, it remained a once-in-a-lifetime demonstration. An API for local multiplayer with multiple Quest devices was not launched for Meta Quest 2 until early 2023.

Why Meta waited so many years is not known. The obvious reason is safety. When multiple people play VR together in the same room, accidents and injuries can occur more quickly because people only see themselves as avatars and are blind to the physical environment.

With mixed reality, this changes because you can always see the environment and the other person. With the gradual introduction of the mixed reality APIs for Meta Quest 2, it made sense that Meta would finally introduce local multiplayer.

However, this type of game is largely unexplored. There are only a handful of demos that explore these possibilities.

With Meta Quest 3’s affordable mixed reality, that will change, and headset technology may finally have a counterpart social couch games. Spatial contents will be effortlessly shared and experienced together in the same space. And as the space available for play expands, new play concepts could emerge in playgrounds, sports fields and arcades.

This will take time because not every household has two or more Quest devices. But the hope is that this kind of mixed reality experience can evolve in the coming years, redefine social play and collaboration.

It can’t be emphasized enough: with Meta Quest 3 and other mixed reality headsets to follow, a new era for technology is dawning. AR headsets like Hololens and Magic Leap are currently too expensive and too technically limited to reach the mainstream. As a result, the available software has only scratched the surface of what is possible.

With mixed reality headsets, technical boundaries are shifting and the potential of AR technology could finally be unlocked and fully explored.

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