• Virtual Reality
  • Augmented Reality
  • 3D Printing


The Mixed Reality Research Lab (MRRL) is a community of practice utilising freely available software technology and collective discipline knowledge and expertise to develop mixed reality solutions to difficult pedagogical problems. The collaborative work of the MRRL reflects a growing belief that immersive learning activities along with emerging technologies present a powerful opportunity to enhance education and learner engagement. The MRRL includes two higher education institutions (Bond University and CQUniversity) with outreach across multiple disciplines in computer/information sciences, the built environment, visual design, health sciences and medicine.

An example of innovation is evidenced in the MRRL response to the following challenge from paramedic educators: “How can distance education students practice lifesaving skills on airways manikins to improve familiarisation and muscle memory?”. The MMRL uniquely mobilised experts from ICT, education, design and paramedics to address the challenge providing a freely accessible design plan for augmenting 3d printed tools through a smart phone enabled app. Researched and developed at a cost under $5000 (AUD), the innovation contributed to increased overall skill acquisition and a greater educational understanding of how mixed reality can assist with skills training, learner engagement and distance education.

The sustainable model of the MRRL has enabled the mobilisation of multiple academics across Bond University and CQUniversity through teaching and learning innovation to collaborate and partner with other institutions and industries worldwide. All partners within the MRRL engage with the greater community, be that as an Advanced Queensland digital champion; presenting innovative STEM workshops to K-12 school partners; practising as clinical surgeons, paramedics or architects or as innovation ‘evangelists’ presenting to higher education institutions on how mixed reality supports engagement and innovation across the higher education landscape.

Below is a description of some of the technologies and projects currently undertaken in the mixed reality research lab; for further details on how these technologies are used, click the 'projects' link to read about specific project outcome

Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) refers to specifically designed virtual environments that the user can interface with in seemingly realistic ways through the use of explicitly designed visual, auditory, and haptic forms of technology. These heightened forms of experience provided by VR afford for learning through offering mimicry experiences of real life locations and events which allow for personal, self-paced exploration of subject matters usually only able to be explored through an observation of another’s experience or recount of a past experience. Virtual reality allows the user to partake in specifically tailored first-hand experiences (e.g. learning to fly a plane first-hand in a virtual reality simulator) which offer a mix of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic content, allowing for the support of learning regardless of the user’s preferred learning style.
Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) makes use of a virtual environment within which computer generated imagery is superimposed upon a real-time view of a physical environment, delivered via a live camera feed. Augmented Reality's main goal is to bring elements from the virtual world over into the real. This is predominantly facilitated through the use of physical markers within the physical environment, which are detected and tracked through the live video feed to imply where the digital content is to be rendered in three dimensional space; or through alternate tracking systems such as GPS which track the digital contents estimated physical position in relation to the user’s position and rotation in the physical environment.
3D Fabrication
3D fabrication is the process of conceptualisng, constructing, printing and assembling 3D objects. Objects for print are usually modelled from scratch through the use 3D modelling software, or converted from existing 3D formats. From these digital formats they are brought to life through a process called additive manufacturing, where the model is split horizontally into layers which are printed directly on top of each other using specifically designed filament.


The Mixed Reality Research Lab conducts research work in a number of diverse areas. These projects are detailed below, and focus on the affordances provided by mixed reality in areas such as skills development, spatial design communication, and theoretical modelling.

Spatial Communication

communicating spatial design through virtual reality

Paramedics Skills

mixed reality laryngoscopy simulation

Anatomy Education

3d interactive anatomy ebook

Network and ICT Modeling

augmented reality networking simulation


Spatial visualisation skills and interpretations are critical, but traditionally difficult to effectively communicate. The aim of this project is to study the impact that Higher Dimensional Media such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and 3d Printing can have within stakeholder communication, design and skills related pedagogies. Currently designers and reviewers are communicating complex spatial concepts through primarily 2d media which inherently requires development of the ability to mentally translate this media to 3d for discussion and back to 2d for feedback. However, with the integration of VR, AR, and 3d printing it is possible for all stakeholders to communicate in 3 or more dimensions, which more accurately represents the physical reality they work in. The goal is to guide the use of emerging comparative multimodal visualization as pedagogy through media properties, lesson sequencing, and reflection to inform effective instruction and learning thus shifting research away from whether technology, simulation or visualization affects learning and knowledge transfer.
Impact and Citations
Kinash, S., Birt, J. & Judd, M. (accepted/in press). Is Technology Enabling or Disabling for Diverse Learners Studying Online. In M. Moore & W. Diehl. (4th Eds.), Handbook of distance education.

Cowling, M., Hillier, M. & Birt, J. (2018, Nov). Integrating Mixed Reality Spatial Learning Analytics into Secure Electronic Exams. In M. Campbell, J. Willems, C. Adachi, D. Blake, I. Doherty, S. Krishnan, S. Macfarlane, L. Ngo, M. O’Donnell, S. Palmer, L. Riddell, I. Story, H. Suri & J. Tai (Eds.), Open Oceans: Learning Without Borders Proceedings ASCILITE2018:35th International Conference on Innovation, Practice and Research in the Use of Educational Technologies in Tertiary Education (pp. 330-334).

Birt, J. & Cowling, M. (2018). Assessing mobile mixed reality affordances as a comparative visualization pedagogy for design communication. Research in Learning Technology, 26.doi:

Birt, J., Manyuru, P. & Nelson, J. (2017). Using virtual and augmented reality to study architectural lighting. In H. Partridge, K. Davis, & J. Thomas. (Eds.), Me, Us, IT! Proceedings ASCILITE2017:34th International Conference on Innovation, Practice and Research in the Use of Educational Technologies in Tertiary Education (pp. 17-21).

Cowling, M. & Birt, J. (2017). Visualising mixed reality simulation for multiple users. In H. Partridge, K. Davis, & J. Thomas. (Eds.), Me, Us, IT! Proceedings ASCILITE2017: 34th International Conference on Innovation, Practice and Research in the Use of Educational Technologies in Tertiary Education (pp. 52-56).

Birt, J. & Cowling, M. A. (2017). Towards future mixed reality learning spaces for STEAM education. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 25(4), 1.

Birt, J. & Spatial Media. (2017), Improving community awareness of infrastructure noise through mixed reality simulation, Advanced Queensland Knowledge Transfer Partnership Grant. Details available from: Advanced Queensland

Cowling, M., Tanenbaum, J., Birt, J., & Tanenbaum, K. (2017). Augmenting reality for augmented reality. interactions, 24(1), 42-45.

Birt, J., & Cowling. M. A. (2016). Mixed reality in higher education:Pedagogy before technology. Research workshop presented at ALASO 2016: Australian Learning Analytics Summer Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide.

Birt, J., Nelson, J., & Hovorka, D. (2015). Towards a Pedagogy of Comparative Visualization in 3D Design Disciplines. In T. Reiners, B.R. von Konsky, D. Gibson, V. Chang, L. Irving, & K. Clarke (Eds.), Globally connected, digitally enabled. Proceedings Ascilite 2015 in Perth (pp. CP:32-CP:36).

Birt, J., Hovorka, D., & Nelson, J. (2015). Interdisciplinary Translation of Comparative Visualization. Proceedings of the 26th Australasian Conference on Information Systems, Adelaide, Australia, December 2015. Awarded ACPHIS Kit Dampney Best Education Paper Prize.

Birt, J. (2014). For improving student learning and engagement through practical juxtaposition of art and science in multi-media education. Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. Australian Office for Learning and Teaching.

Birt, J. & Hovorka, D.S. (2014) Effect of mixed media visualization on learner perceptions and outcomes, Proceedings of the 25th Australasian Conference on Information Systems, AUT, Auckland, New Zealand, December 2014.

Birt, J. (2014). Mixed media visualization effect on student perceptions and learning outcomes. In B. Hegarty, J. McDonald, & S.-K. Loke (Eds.), Rhetoric and Reality: Critical perspectives on educational technology. Proceedings Ascilite Dunedin 2014 (pp. 514-518).

Birt, J. (2012). Effective and engaging curriculum that challenges and motivates visual arts and design students in today's knowledge economy. In K. Wood, D. Knight, & S. Kinash (Eds.). Scholarship of Teaching and Learning @ Bond, Volume 2 (pp. 160-167). Gold Coast, Queensland: Office of Teaching and Learning, Bond University.


Using first aid training and paramedic science education as a case study, this project presents learning interventions using mixed reality visualisation (3D printing, virtual reality & augmented reality simulation) to enhance skills development for learners. The aim of this research is to provide more hands-on skill practice to students, as well as increase overall skill acquisition and retention by answering the question “How does the use of mixed reality affect skills development in learners?”. The expected outcome of this work is a greater understanding of how mixed reality can assist with skills development and insight into whether these techniques can lead to better learning outcomes in distance and face to face education.
Impact and Citations
Birt, J. (2018). Smart First Aid - Leading the world in 1st aid innovation: Pilot Study Report 2018. Mareeba: TCB Innovations Pty Ltd.Available: Here

Moore, E., Cowling, M. A., & Birt, J. (2018). Using virtual reality to make paramedic practice more real. In Fleming, J., & Tickner, R. (Eds.). Good Practice Guide at CQUniversity (pg.9). Office of Learning and Teaching Services, CQUniversity.

Cowling, M. A. & Birt, J. (2018). Pedagogy before technology:A design-based research approach to enhancing skills development in paramedic science using mixed reality. Information, 9(2), 29.

Birt, J., Moore, E., & Cowling, M. A. (2017). Improving paramedic distance education through mobile mixed reality simulation. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 33(6), 69-83.

Birt, J. & Rescue Swag. (2017), Smart First Aid - Leading the World in 1st Aid Innovation, Ignite Ideas Grant. Details available from: Advanced Queensland

Birt, J., Moore, E., & Cowling, M. A. (2017, April). Piloting mobile mixed reality simulation in paramedic distance education. In Serious Games and Applications for Health (SeGAH), 2017 IEEE 5th International Conference on Health (pp. 1-8). IEEE Xplore.

Cowling, M., Moore, E., & Birt, J. (2015). Augmenting distance education skills development in paramedic science through mixed media visualisation. Paper presented at the combined 21st European Concurrent Engineering Conference, 11th Future Business Technology Conference, 19th Annual Euromedia Conference. 27-29 April, 2015. Lisbon, Portugal.

Cowling, M. A., Birt. J. & Moore, E. (2015, October) Using 3D Printed Tools and an Augmented Reality Smartphone App to Enhance Paramedic Skill Development. Poster session presented at Council of Ambulance Authorities Conference, Melbourne, Australia. Available: Here

Moore, E., Cowling, M. A. & Birt. J. (2015, October) Improving Skill Development for Paramedics through Mixed Media Visualisation via 3D Printing and an Augmented Reality App. Poster session presented at Paramedics Australasia International Conference, Adelaide, Australia. Available: Here

Moore, E., Cowling, M., & Birt, J. (2014, December) Exploring Possibilities in 3D Printing for Paramedic Science. Poster session presented at 4th ACU Simulation in Health Education Showcase, Brisbane, Queensland.
AR Markers
3D Prints
laryngoscopyar on google play
laryngoscopyar on app store


3d interactive anatomy ebook

New accessible learning methods delivered through mobile and mixed reality are becoming possible in education, shifting pedagogy from the use of two dimensional images and videos to facilitating learning via interactive mobile environments. This is especially important in medical and health education, where the required knowledge acquisition is typically much more experiential, self-directed, and hands-on than in many other disciplines. Presented are insights obtained from the implementation and testing of mixed reality technology in anatomy and physiology classrooms. With the aim to explore how interactions with these devices assist in the spatial learning and knowledge transfer in health sciences and medicine.
Impact and Citations
Kuehn, B. M. (2018, February) Virtual and Augmented Reality Put a Twist on Medical Education. Featured Article in JAMA - Interactive Anatomy.

Birt, J., Stromberga, Z., Cowling, M. & Moro, C. (2018). Mobile mixed reality for experiential learning and simulation in medical and health sciences education. Information, 9(2), 31.

Moro, C., Stromberga, Z., & Stirling, A. (2017). Virtualisation devices for student learning: Comparison between desktop-based (Oculus Rift) and mobile-based (Gear VR) virtual reality in medical and health science education. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 33(6), 1-10.

Moro, C., Stromberga, Z., Raikos, A., & Stirling, A. (2017). The effectiveness of virtual and augmented reality in health science and medical anatomy. Anatomical Sciences Education, 10(6), 549-599.

Moro, C., Stromberga, Z., Raikos, A., & Stirling, A. (2016). Combining virtual (Oculus Rift & Gear VR) and augmented reality with interactive applications to enhance tertiary medical and biomedical curricula. In SA 2016 - SIGGRAPH ASIA 2016 Symposium on Education: Talks [2993364] Association for Computing Machinery.

Stromberga, Z., Raikos, A., Stirling, A., & Moro, C. (2016). Utilising Virtual and Augmented Reality to enhance medical and healthcare education. Poster session presented at 55th Australian Society for Medical Research National Scientific Conference, Gold Coast, Australia.

Stirling, A., & Birt, J. (2014). An enriched multimedia eBook application to facilitate learning of anatomy. Anatomical Sciences Education, 7(1), 19-27.

Stirling, A., & Birt, J. (2013). Getting to the HEART of Blended Learning. In Kinash, S., Knight, D. & Kordyban, R. (Eds.). Blended learning at Bond (pp.26-29). Office of Learning and Teaching, Bond University.


The aim of this project is to present a mixed reality visualisation method to assist learners with theoretical model understanding and applied use in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) education. In particular, to address the problem that often system models are not physical in our existence but rather logical models used to describe behaviour at the software and hardware level. This can often be difficult for novice learners to understand and communicate. Using ICT Systems Analysis Design and network TCP/IP modeling as case studies, this project looks to answering the research questions: "How does mixed reality impact 21st century student learning system models in ICT courses?".
Impact and Citations
Munoz, J.C., Cowling, M., & Birt, J. (accepted/ in press). Framework to Enhance Teaching and Learning in System Analysis and Unified Modelling Language. 7th IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning for Engineering (TALE).

Cowling, M. & Birt, J. (2016). Piloting mixed reality in ICT networking to visualize complex theoretical multi-step problems. In S. Barker, S. Dawson, A. Pardo, & C. Colvin (Eds.), Show Me The Learning. Proceedings ASCILITE 2016 Adelaide (pp. 163-168).

Munoz, J.C., Cowling, M., & Birt, J. (2016). Using gamification and mixed reality visualization to improve conceptual understanding in ICT system analysis and design. In S. Barker, S. Dawson, A. Pardo, & C. Colvin (Eds.), Show Me The Learning. Proceedings ASCILITE 2016 Adelaide (pp. 455-460).

Munoz, J.C., Cowling, M., & Birt, J. (2016). Effectiveness of Augmented Reality instruction in teaching ICT Systems Design, Australian Higher Education Conference Canberra. Available: Here

Cowling, M. & Birt, J. (2015). Teaching Complex Theoretical Multi-Step Problems in ICT Networking through 3D Printing and Augmented Reality. In T. Reiners, B.R. von Konsky, D. Gibson, V. Chang, L. Irving, & K. Clarke (Eds.), Globally connected, digitally enabled. Proceedings ascilite 2015 in Perth (pp. CP:62-CP:66). Awarded best concise paper award.

Munoz, J.C., Cowling, M., & Birt, J. (2015). Pedagogy enabled through technology: using augmented reality effectively through mobile devices in the ICT learning environment, Poster session presented at IEEE Queensland Section 30 Years Celebration PhD Poster Conference, Brisbane, Australia. Available: Here
AR Markers
3D Prints
networking ar on google play
networking ar on app store


The Mixed Reality Lab has a dedicated team of researchers
collaborating from varying fields of study and locations around Australia.

Dr James Birt

Associate Professor,
Faculty of Society and Design,
Bond University

Dr Michael Cowling

Associate Professor,
School of Engineering and Technology,
Central Queensland University

Dr Christian Moro

Assistant Professor,
Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine,
Bond University

Dr Allan Stirling

Associate Professor,
Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine,
Bond University

Jonathan Nelson

Design Researcher,

Emma Moore

School of Medical & Applied Sciences,
Central Queensland University

Zane Stromberga

PhD Candidate,
Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine,
Bond University

Juan Carlos Munoz

PhD Candidate,
School of Engineering and Technology,
Central Queensland University

Jeremy Orr

Research Assistant,
Bond University,
Central Queensland University


The Mixed Reality Lab works closely in collaboration with the following academic institutions.
We invest in research and development to ensure that our applications and outcomes are cutting edge and fit for purpose.

Bond University

14 University Drive,
Robina QLD 4226,

Central Queensland University

Bruce Highway,
North Rockhampton QLD 4702,


The Mixed Reality Research Lab is always looking for new disciplines and industries in which we can apply mixed reality to solve skills development, pedagody and education learning problems. If you'd like to work with us, or just have other questions about the lab and what we do, please contact us via email or phone and one of the team members will be in contact with you shortly.

Bond University
14 University Drive,
Robina QLD 4226,