The New Media Mix, At SXSW It Could Be 'Mixed,' Literally

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- That’s what Thom Gruhler, Corporate Vice President, Brand and Integrated Marketing, Microsoft, suggested the not-too-distant future of media could be for both consumers and brands if some new computing technology plays out the way Microsoft believes. That technology will be enabled by devices like Microsoft’s new HoloLens, an amazing holographic projector that blurs the line between AR and VR into a new, emerging field of MR.

The Rs of course are reality and the M in this case represents mixed reality.

“It projects holograms in the environment you’re in,” Gruhler said of the HoloLens, referring to it as a “mixed reality product” that closes the loop between augmented reality and virtual reality.

Speaking during an OMMA SXSW panel on the “Internet of You” here, Gruhler said the mixed reality category may be nascent, but it’s going to “change the game” for consumers and brands alike, and that the brands that move the fastest will gain the most competitive advantage.

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“You have to start now,” he asserted, adding, “If you’re not starting now, then you’re sort of missing the opportunity to get ahead of where the brand and consumer technology will be in the future.”

While the concept may seem abstract to some observers, it’s actually quite different than AR, which enables data augmenting the real world to be layered on screens, or VR, which allows people to experience things virtually via screens, because the HoloLens brings the data into the real, physical world via a projection system that people can actually interact with.

Gruhler conceded it will require a lot of development by brands -- both on the “front-end and the back-end” -- for them to take full advantage of the technology, but the payoff will be worth it by creating new immersive experiences that wouldn’t otherwise be possible in the real world.
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