Mixed Reality for everyone through Windows 10

Written by Natalie Afshar

What exactly is mixed reality? And how does it compare with augmented reality and virtual reality?

Well, virtual reality (VR) usually involves a fully immersive virtual experience including head mounted displays, while augmented reality (AR) involves an overlay of content on the real world, and mixed reality (MR) takes it one step further where the holographic content is anchored to the real world, and interacts with it in real time, for example overlaying a virtual architectural model on a table or surgeons overlaying a virtual x-ray on a patient while performing an operation.

Microsoft have a Mixed Reality (MR) offering called Windows Mixed Reality which allows anyone with the latest Windows10 update to experiment with holographic technology. Windows Mixed Reality offers a whole suite of creative tools, from Paint 3D to Mixed Reality Viewer and Remix 3D, which I will explain in more depth below. These tools allow students and teachers to be active creators of mixed reality content, rather than just passive consumers: they can experiment with 3D drawing, mixed reality video editing and even 3D printing or creating 3D content with Unity.

This is useful for schools and teachers because you don’t actually need an expensive VR headset to start creating and experimenting – a readily available mixed reality solution can be accessed by anyone with the latest build of Windows10, with the Fall Creators Update, and a PC with a webcam.

For IT admins who want to read more about the Fall Creators Update and how to get started, click here.

It also updates your device with the latest security features. Windows Defender Antivirus specifically safeguards against malicious apps including ransomware attacks and threats like WannaCry, and it continuously scans your device to protect against any potential threats in real time through the cloud protection service.

If you’re not sure if you already have the Fall Creators update, you can check your device to see which version of Windows 10 you’re on here.

Here is some more information about tools in Windows Mixed Reality – you might want to share these resources with teachers.

The Mixed Reality viewer feature uses the web-cam on your laptop to embed virtual 3D objects into real world images and videos. For example, the above image shows a rover being overlaid into a photo of a boy standing next to a car. You can rotate and move around an object so it fits realistically into the photo.

The Story Remix feature in the Photos app allows you to insert 3D objects directly into videos. For example, above is a video of a dinosaur placed into a football game, as the girl kicks a ball of flames. Watch the tutorial here.

Paint 3D is the updated version of the old favourite Windows Paint. It allows simple 3D creation and editing in a modern interface. You can doodle in 2D and convert it to a 3D object using the Magic Select tool and see your creations in MR through the Mixed Reality Viewer app.

The 3D Builder app allows you to build and 3D print any design you create, without having to know how CAD works. Previously you would need some CAD knowledge to 3D print, but 3D Builder simplifies this. You can also import designs you find online and print to any 3D printer that has a Windows-compatible printer driver. The app can be used as a reference and a test tool for 3D-editing, and for validating 3MF files that you create.

Taking it one step further, for advanced learners, you can create professional 2D or 3D games with Unity (3rd Party App).

For more in-depth information of the newest features of the Fall Creators Update, read here.

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