Making in Mixed Reality

The Seminar and Design Workshop with Fologram  "Making in Mixed Reality" took place in our Hybrid Lab in April 18th-19th. It was open to all artists, designers, architects, engineers, researchers, teachers and students. The participants build threedimensional objects by using the interactive holographic applications developed by Fologram for Hololenses. One of the participants is telling us about the experiences he made during the workshop.

Mixed (or Augmented) Reality is not only a new approach to solve practical problems in design, constructions and engineering but it has recently developed as a new trend in sci-fi television series and cinema. What you actually see in “Black Mirror” will soon emerge into your daily routine. Fologram is a great example of it.

Being new in TU Berlin I could not help but notice the old building in the middle of the campus labeled Hybrid Lab. And what better opportunity to get to know it as through a workshop in Mixed Reality.

The workshop started with a warm presentation from the Fologram team who made all the way from Australia to show their work! The session was swift and thorough, explaining what Mixed Reality is, what Fologram can do and a number of practical implementations of it. Seeing unskilled people using MR googles finishing complicated constructions in one tenth of the time that skilled workers needed got you really convinced.

A two hours session of presentation, questions and answers and now what? MR googles were distributed to the participants and we went straight into the Augmented Reality. The workshop had enough googles so that all participants had a lot of time to familiarize and experiment with them.  The view through the googles was impressive. At some point we all had the discussion “What if there is a huge invisible rabbit on the table in front me”. So imagine that you wear the MR googles and the huge rabbit is there, on the table before you! This is how I would describe my first impression of a mixed reality environment.

I have been a few times in workshops/presentations of Virtual Reality environments. They are pretty impressive as your dive into a totally new world. Mixed Reality though is something else: It adds objects to your surroundings and actually alters the scene around you. MR might not be not so impressive in pictures and videos but when you are there, it is very intense.

The workshop would have been already a satisfactory experience but actually it had only started. Separated in small work groups, we decided on a project to undertake and we were provided with materials to realize some (not so) small scale constructions. Participants could also propose their own project, as some colleagues from Audio Communications Group did.

With pieces of wood, rope, flexible plastic sticks, scissors, cutters, glue and other materials you can find in any playground we started building an ambitious arc the size of a human being. This part was a lot of fun and very interesting on the level of teamwork. Just imagine the team leader (the participant with the MR googles) trying coordinate the rest of the group towards the completion of an invisible design that only she/he could see. And then it was your turn to wear the googles and try to navigate the group to the next step of the construction process...

I saw the constructions the participants managed to accomplish in two days of Fologram and I have to admit that the result, although not a piece of art, was something to be proud of!

- Christos Drouzas: PhD Candidate | Audio Communications Group | TU Berlin