Mixed reality (MR) is one of the hottest concepts on the tech scene. It essentially refers to a combination of VR (virtual reality) and augmented reality (AR). Using MR, developers can merge real and virtual worlds to deliver exciting new visualisations that allow physical and digital objects to interact with each other in real time.

The MR industry is already thought to be worth up to $162 billion globally. But it’s a field that’s constantly evolving, and many are now expecting MR technologies to become an integral part of our day to day lives within months.

Here, we’ve listed five reasons why 2018 could be mixed reality’s biggest year yet – and given you a glimpse into the technology’s not-too-distant future.

  • MR is more accessible than ever

MR is now found within most popular smartphones. In fact, it’s estimated that there are over three billion units in the world with augmented reality capabilities. This means that more people than ever before are able to explore the concept for themselves, and as a result, MR is becoming well-recognised within the public consciousness; in laymen’s terms, it’s becoming more ‘mainstream’.

  • MR is being used to improve our day-to-day lives

Mixed reality is heavily associated with the entertainment industry, and particularly the gaming sector. It’s also being widely used within marketing strategies to ensure forward-thinking businesses are a step ahead of their competition. But layering virtual visuals on top of real-world environments also has practical uses. For example, Blippar provides landmark recognition to help sightseeing travellers immerse themselves in their surroundings even further; elsewhere, Find Your Car With AR is another handy app that helps you track down your parked vehicle by combining VR instructions with the view from your phone’s camera. Plenty of early adopters are already wondering how they used to get by without such advanced tech.

  • Some of the world’s biggest tech giants are assisting the growth of MR

Some of the most influential tech companies of our time have focused their attentions on MR innovations that help budding developers bring their latest ideas to life.

Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore and Snapchat’s Lens Studio are three examples of software that enable third party producers to build their own augmented reality experiences. These apps are opening up the industry to anyone with basic development knowledge.

  • Purse-friendly MR products are on the horizon

When it comes to developing new ideas, mixed reality companies have never had so much freedom to do as they please. Best of all, many of the latest innovations are considered to be well within the average consumer’s budget. There’s already been something of a cost war amongst leading brands, with Oculus and HTC dropping the prices of their first-generation VR headsets in August 2017 – and industry commentators are expecting this trend to continue well in 2018 and beyond.

Magic Leap, a wave-making venture based in Silicon Valley, is one such company that is set to release disruptive hardware with a reasonable price point. The firm’s imminent augmented reality headset, which is rumoured to ship this summer, consists of an MR visor, a wearable computer and a handheld controller, which when combined will offer ground-breaking immersive experiences that are shockingly realistic. At time of writing, the cost of the setup is unknown – but with Microsoft and Apple also thought to be launching similar products within the next twelve months, it’s near certain that Magic Leap will want to keep their pricing competitive to encourage high adoption rates.

  • There’s no shortage of MR developer talent

The MR industry has been growing exponentially for some time now, and to cater for the increasing demand for the technology, MR content producers are emerging left right and centre. Many are backed by investors who are keen to capitalise on the current trend for MR sooner rather than later, meaning that time is of the essence for start-ups that want to bring something fresh to the market.

But while today’s MR developers may have the technical knowledge they need to work with these emerging concepts, what they often don’t have is a solid background in experiential marketing to ensure that their ideas are put to good use. This is where Oakley VR is different. We’ve been working in immersive technology since 2012, a time when today’s software was stuff of dreams.