Living in a world of mixed reality

I’m Richard, a 23-year-old tech enthusiast spending my summer programming at Ericsson Research in Kista, Sweden. I’m part of the Device Technologies team, and my focus is on Mixed Reality.

Students from many different fields join Ericsson Research for internships or thesis work. You could be next. Follow our blog to learn about the students at Ericsson Research this summer.

Mixed Reality – what’s all the fuzz about?

I work in the Device Technologies section at Ericsson Research together with a team of researchers, ranging from new graduates to seniors. My task for the summer has been to develop features in the emerging field known as Mixed Reality. Sound confusing? Don’t worry, I’ll explain what it means. Essentially, Mixed Reality (MR) is a cross between Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). In VR, all objects and surroundings are virtual, i.e. the real world is excluded from the application. AR on the other hand, augments real-world objects using virtual content. Cameras and other sensors are used to capture, or map, the real world in order to determine how and where to place this virtual content. Once the mapping is complete, the virtual objects are placed in the real world and displayed according to the user. These virtual objects can then be manipulated using different interactive tools such as audio and haptics. So what is MR? Imagine you want to anchor the virtual objects in the real world to create an immersive experience in which the virtual and the physical objects co-exist and interact in a natural manner, well that’s MR!

One of the challenges in MR is occlusion, i.e. hiding the parts of a virtual object that are behind a physical object. It means the system, in real time, needs to know the pose (position and orientation) of the physical object to be able to tell if the virtual object should be occluded. This challenge is what I research, using a cool MR headset. If it’s good enough, my research may be implemented in the team’s project at the end of the summer for further research in the field, which is highly motivating.

richard-sitl

A blue virtual sphere that is partly occluded by a curtain in our office, using a Mixed Reality headset.

Ericsson – a truly international company

One of the many reasons that I applied for a summer internship at Ericsson is the fact that it’s a truly international company. The business language is English and the employees come from so many different countries and cultures. In my team there are employees from six nationalities, which makes it an interesting workplace where I can learn a lot, especially practicing my English communication skills in business and engineering contexts, which is not something you learn at university. But I’ve been able to put the knowledge I gained at university into practice together with the responsibility and freedom to decide what I wanted to focus on. It’s so rewarding to know that the technology and engineering skills I possess are relevant, and Ericsson lets me use them to enhance my knowledge and understanding of the subjects. I’ve also learned a lot about how research is conducted and what a big tech company must focus on to stay ahead.

My story

I completed my fourth year at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm just prior to my summer at Ericsson research. I’m studying the master’s program in Engineering Design with a track in Mechatronics, which is part of my five-year degree program in Mechanical Engineering. During my years at KTH, I discovered that programming, computer science and machine learning are the fields I found myself most comfortable in and really enjoy working with. Even though I’ve done many elective courses within these fields, I decided to apply for the master’s program in Machine Learning at KTH, and I was accepted. So this fall I’m starting my second master, which I’m very excited about!

Besides university life, I like keeping fit and playing sports, especially soccer, which has been my passion since I was just a little kid. I reached my peak as a soccer player during my high school years, when I played for Eskilstuna City FK as part of the youth league, Pojkallsvenskan Elite. The turning point came during my senior year of high school when I realized that I would have a better, more successful future in engineering and technology than as a professional football player. Nowadays, I run and go to the gym every week and in the winter I love to ski. I enjoy taking a break or two from tech courses, by spending time with friends and family. I’m also interested in music, and one of my vices is binge watching TV-series.


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