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Merged Reality


Merged Reality (MR) is an advanced form of immersive technology that combines elements of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to create an interactive environment where users can manipulate digital objects within their physical surroundings.
It is considered an enhancement of mixed reality, allowing for a more seamless and intuitive experience. Merged Reality falls under Extended Reality (XR), encompassing all immersive technologies, including VR, AR, and MR.

History and Developments

The evolution of immersive technologies has led to significant milestones and breakthroughs in merged reality. One of the earliest applications of this technology was in the neurosurgical suite, where Dr. Barton Guthrie developed an innovative procedure for treating Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Barton Guthrie and Dr. Brett Ponce, both affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, conducted pioneering work in the areas of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Interactive Presence (VIP) for neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery.  Dr. Guthrie developed an innovative procedure for treating Parkinson’s disease that involved AR technology, while Dr. Ponce used VIP technology to enable remote mentoring and tele-mentoring in orthopedic surgery

The proprietary merged reality system Dr. Ponce and his colleagues developed utilized wearable computing devices such as Google Glass and real-time augmented-reality software. This application enabled remote surgical assistance by allowing a remote surgeon to deliver real-time virtual assistance to a local surgeon using a digital view piece, composed of two cameras for stereoscopic capture, and a high-definition viewer displaying a virtual field. The virtual field was created by digitally compositing selected elements within the remote field into the local field. Digital renderings derived from volumetric MRI were added to the virtual field to augment the surgeon’s reality. This system allowed for real-time, virtual interaction between a local (resident) and remote (attending) surgeon.

This merged reality system has since become the foundation for a platform used to enhance communication and collaboration in various industries.