Discover The World Of Mixed Reality

By Gianfranco Chicco

Three guiding principles for great mixed reality.

Last year, Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto’s work was seen in non-physical form for the first time. This was thanks to production studio and technology developer Tin Drum who created from ‘Medusa,’ from his design, a mixed reality project examining structure, nature and visualisation at the V&A’s Raphael Court.

Mixed reality blends physical and virtual worlds into spaces where tangible and intangible objects interact in real time. This project explored the relationship between architecture and nature, bringing to life features that morph and evolve based on the movement of audiences in the space.

Yoyo Munk is Tin Drum’s chief science officer and the director of ‘Medusa’. He describes how, in general, architecture concerns itself with the physical structures, intended to enclose spaces for human interaction and shelter — which often implies separation from nature.

“This virtual architecture cannot provide real shelter. But on the other hand, the virtual nature of the structure also means that it is released from any obligation to adhere to the laws of gravity, or to physically support itself,” explains Monk.

How did Medusa come to life? Here we dive into the guiding principles for great mixed reality according to Tin Drum.

'In mixed reality there is no physicality to the structures, so any solidity exists only in how we perceive it visually.' - Yoyo Munk

1️⃣ Avoid technical constraints

“We create for real-world spaces: a crucial distinction from virtual reality. We utilise headsets that are ‘optical pass-through,’ meaning that the glasses are transparent and do not block your view of the real world around you. As such, the pieces we create are added to the world, designed to inhabit real spaces. We do not create virtual environments to replace the real world, but rather digital objects that inhabit and draw energy from real spaces. While there is no technical constraint that requires mixed reality experiences to be created for specific real-world environments, we find that this is essential to realising the power and depth of the medium.”

2️⃣ Build for an audience

“We create experiences that are designed to be shared by an audience. The transparent nature of the technology permits members of the audience to see one another as they are. Building for an audience allows us to transcend the isolation and solipsism of virtual reality, to create shared human experiences that contain the intention of elevating connections. In mixed reality, we can move further into this space, creating a structure that is dynamic, shifting and organically responsive to the way the audience moves through it.”

3️⃣ Create human-centred experiences

“Finally, and most importantly: while all Tin Drum experiences make use of emerging technologies, we aspire to make experiences that are fundamentally human, as opposed to technological. We avoid pure spectacle and our goal is always to ensure that the technology layer makes as minimal an impact on the entire experience as possible. This involves a design process that extends far beyond what happens within the glasses, incorporating subtle choreography intended to pull focus away from the technology itself, allowing for a direct connection to creative space. Our goal is to use technology to create human experiences – hopefully ones that extend well beyond the point when the glasses come off.”