Augmented reality is in many cases a solution looking for a problem, but Canon's new "Mixed Reality" system could give product designers a new way to look at what they've built. Launching in Japan next month, MR allows designers to build full-scale 3D models and then project them into their surroundings. Using a head-mounted display, people can then walk "around" the model in real space as the display's cameras capture video and integrate CG into it. In the promotional video, users also do things like open the doors of a model car using a handheld motion controller that looks a lot like the PlayStation Move. It can also put more sophisticated overlays onto rough physical objects, letting someone see something like a plastic camera mockup in different colors.

The concept isn't too different from other forms of AR, but it could create a more intuitive and interactive experience than looking at a monitor or smartphone display, or even a Project Glass-style overlay. This means designers could build virtual prototypes instead of physical ones in the early stages of making a product. Canon also hopes to expand it into fields like surgical training, education, or sales (where it would let customers test a product virtually.) It will be demonstrated from June 20th to 22nd at the 3D & Virtual Reality Expo in Tokyo, and Canon plans to start selling it to companies in late July.