The Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK) is a reference in the world of XR interactions and UI creation for both VR and AR and specifically for Hololens. It is a solid system working on many platforms and providing various tools to help you create your XR experience.
However, depending on your project it might not fit properly with your expectations or needs. Today we will cover some key points of MRTK while comparing them to their opposite key points from the Interaction Builder by Interhaptics.
These two tools share many features but they also strongly differ in term of concepts and what they are built for.
Let’s start by explaining the main difference between MRTK and Interaction Builder: for what kind of content they are used. Both are for “interactions” in XR, but it is not the same concept of “interactions”.
MRTK is built to create interactive content as a human-machine interface (HMI), focused mainly on UI, distant interactions with pinch, and displacement in the VR world. MRTK is using the XR world and its lighter constraints (compared to the real world) to expand the way you interact with objects.
The Interaction Builder is based on hand manipulations, focused mainly on reproducing how humans interact with objects in real life. How the hand works while interacting is a fundamental pillar to recreate realistic interactions in a virtual world.
In term of complexity and learning curve, with MRTK being an older product, it includes a lot of features. However, an overload of functionalities can slow down the development process.
MRTK architecture (source https://microsoft.github.io/MixedRealityToolkit-Unity/Documentation/Architecture/Overview.html)
Interaction Builder architecture
MRTK is a complete architecture over which a developer can create his own system. Such complete architecture leads to complexity for simple use cases. You must understand how MRTK is built to work with it.
On the other hand, the Interaction Builder is a ready to use tool, with a smaller and simpler architecture because it is focused on a specific application. You do not have to understand how the tool is built to use it, and you are not limited and have open API access if you want to expand the tool.
Both MRTK and the Interaction Builder provides tools for the developers to add data providers. This enriches the list of devices that are compatible with the tool. Technically, any kind of device can be plugged to both. The main difference here is that the Interaction builder is a bit more flexible in term of switching between platforms of deployment, while MRTK has a whole framework to handle the input as part of your application, with very detailed features which give you full control of what you want to do.
If you are looking for a great UI tool for XR, MRTK is definitively the one to go for. It provides a lot of functionalities and prefabs to help you go in that direction for almost any kind of UI application you could think of. However, if you want to go for an application with interactions based on hand manipulation, the Interaction Builder will offer a strong touch of realism.