This article is a multipart series about working with Mixed Reality in PowerApps. This is the very first article in this series where I would like to introduce mixed reality, and then talk about mixed reality capabilities that can be leveraged in PowerApps. The entire Mixed Reality in PowerApps series is part of Modern Work Solutions’ Microsoft Power App Development service.
Before I introduce mixed reality, it’s important to understand a few terms, like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality or VR is a technology that creates a virtual environment. People interact in those environments using, for example, VR goggles or VR Headset or other devices. It is a computer-generated simulation of an environment or 3-dimensional image where people can interact in a seemingly real or physical way.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality or AR uses a real environment. AR “augments” reality by overlaying virtual objects on top of it, such as Snapchat filter. However, the user cannot interact directly with virtual objects.
What is Mixed Reality?
Mixed reality is the merging of real and virtual world to produce new environment and visualization where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. It’s a combination of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
Microsoft Power App Development and Real world use cases of PowerApps Mixed Reality
Let’s look at some real-world use cases of PowerApps mixed reality.
- Find the Right fit
When working in the real world, it is important to understand physical spaces. Power Apps allows us to use 3D models or virtual volumetric representations to find out, for example, if a pathway is large enough or if a product will fit in the given space or how placement might impact line of sight.
- Take measurements
PowerApps allows taking linear or volumetric measurements like length, area and volume in real time. These results can be used to, for example, kick off automated processes.
- Use 2D and 3D models in real time
PowerApps allows bringing 3D models when there is a need to visualize how products will look in a given space. The models could be stored and accessed from anywhere like Dataverse, SharePoint Online or One Drive. The users will be able to view and interact with 3D models, place them in the real world, and take a photo of the scene to share with others.
3D models are not the only way to leverage mixed reality. Traditional images like jpgs and pngs can also be placed in the real world to help visualize how a product might exist in that space.
PowerApps components for Mixed Reality
PowerApps provides the following prebuilt components that can be used for MR scenarios:
- View in 3D
- View in mixed reality
- Measure in mixed reality
- View shape in mixed reality
On 5th April 2021, Microsoft announced the general availability of mixed reality(MR) features in Power Apps, which include the View in 3D, View in MR, View Shape in MR, and Measure in MR components. The link can be found here.
I will be covering each of these components in upcoming articles in this multipart series.
- 3D content must be in .glb file format - This is the only file format supported in PowerApps presently.
- Mixed-reality capable devices - To use the components in an app created with Power Apps, the device that runs the app (such as a phone or tablet) needs to have specific hardware and software. The device you use to create the app in the Power Apps studio (such as your PC) does not need to be MR-capable. For Android devices, ARCore services must be installed. ARCore supported device list can be found here. For iOS devices, MR is supported on specific hardware with ARKit. iOS or iPadOS device AR support list can be found here.
In this article we introduced some important terms and concepts around mixed reality in PowerApps.
In the next article, we will together create our first “View in 3D” PowerApps. I hope you will continue your journey with me in exploring mixed reality in PowerApps.
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Stay well and happy PowerApping...!