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A Preliminary Exploration of Mixed Reality as a Medium for Mathematical Collaboration August 29, 2016 (09:30 AM PDT - 10:30 AM PDT)
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Location: MSRI: Simons Auditorium
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“Mixed Reality” is a variant of Virtual Reality in which the physical world remains visible, while virtual objects seem to be added to the world.  HoloLens is a device that makes Mixed Reality experiences available in a headset form factor.  In this exploration, we have applied HoloLenses to the collaborative operation of Mathematica.  As a start, a source of data or a symbolic expression might be realized as a virtual poster or sculpture.  Then, other virtual object can be positioned in order to modify those sources.  For instance, virtual magnifying glasses might act as functions.  If a participant looks at a source through a magnifying glass, the source will be rendered as modified by a corresponding function.  Magnifying glasses can be combined into structures, so that one can move about in a room to see different sequences of functions applied, depending on virtual sightlines that pass through different sequences of functions.  The reason this is interesting is that multiple users can then explore a meta-structure of related mathematical expressions, a task that gets confusing in a 2D medium.  This work is an early exploration.  We hope to engage the mathematics community to discover how this type of interface might be relevant either to the work of professional mathematicians or to education and outreach.  (Yes, there will be a working demo for attendees to try.)

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