Mixed realities within an internship at HAMK Smart Research Unit


Topi Aila completed his internship at HAMK Smart Research Unit by researching Varjo XR-1 glasses and MR (mixed reality) technology helping us to understand benefits and potential use cases for them. It was nice to have him helping us and to see all the things he discovered during his internship. In this blog Topi tells his thoughts on how it all went.

My name is Topi Aila and I am a second-year student in the Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Computer Applications degree. I got in the degree because of my aspirations in the field of software development and my main reason to apply to HAMK was the possibility for studying international degree purely on computers. My hobbies include board games, gaming, jogging and familiarizing myself with more new technologies in the field of IT.

I started my journey for this internship by noticing a post in HAMK’s Yammer. It was an open invitation to people who were interested in game engines and wanted to do research on Varjo XR1 glasses. I had never heard of Varjo as a company, nor had I ever even touched game engines. I was intrigued by the offer and decided to apply since I saw this as a good opportunity. I started off by doing research on Unreal Engine from home. I studied how blueprint coding was done in Unreal Engine. This was somewhat new to me since I had done some node coding before in some of the courses Hamk provided in the degree which I am studying in. This just proves how you can start doing something without knowing anything about it.

My research during my internship consisted of mixed reality, eye tracking, depth perception and Varjo markers. These were my main focus and I personally liked eye tracking the most. This was also my biggest thing to research since it had many different aspects to study.  Goal at the beginning was just to simply figure out how OpenXR works and what were its possibilities with the field of study I was in. I had to go through tons of documentation to get to know how Varjo works with OpenXR and how it can work between Unreal Engine and its own native SDK. Although I never touched their native SDK I was still interested and wanted to know what its benefits were and how it was different against OpenXR. I also did comparison on different devices when studying XR1 glasses only to notice that their newest glasses XR3 offered more functionality. Only downside to this was that I didn’t have XR3 glasses, and they also required subscription to use them.

I started studying mixed reality early march and in 2 weeks I completed my own demo application inside Unreal Engine. I wrote documentation on how to make your own mixed reality environment and how the whole mixed reality works inside Unreal Engine. This was a huge step for me since I still felt like a beginner in this sort of stuff, but I already had managed to create something of my own. After achieving this goal, I started to get more in-depth how eye tracking works inside Unreal Engine. This was a much more challenging task. My math skills were not the best level and I had never worked with vectors before. Thankfully the documentation was really helpful and helped me to understand users’ perception when gathering data on eye tracking. We had some debates in the office about what the data gave us and how it could be used for future analytics for example in customer interest in some products. We could now gather data on where the user is looking more and what the customer in this case pays attention to most of the time. This was the idea behind research. Always finding use cases and meaning for the research we do at HAMK Smart Research Unit. At the end of my internship, I still had some time to get more in-depth with Varjo markers which are these QR code looking things that can then have functionality built into them. It was another way of bringing virtual objects inside the real world. This was very futuristic to me since it could do a lot more than just a plain simple QR code.

In the future I feel like I will someday come back to this sort of stuff, but for now I want to get more knowledge in the area of system architecture and coding. This was a good experience for me and it gave me a lot of insight in the field of game engines and extended reality.

Topi Aila
Häme University of Applied Sciences

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