Microsoft’s making a point with its latest glimpse into the future. Instead of choosing a side in the race to develop virtual and augmented reality technologies, the Windows maker is embracing a mixed reality, and it’s a vision that aims to break down the barriers between our physical world and the endless potential of a virtual space. Powering the company’s mixed reality is Windows Holographic, a platform embedded inside Windows 10 that enables end-users to transform the physical world around them with interactive holograms. In the video demonstration above, Microsoft promotes a collaborative experience where multiple users can virtually meet up, plan, and execute ideas in real time.
Collaboration is the key here. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the gamer featured in this clip is not wearing Microsoft’s HoloLens hardware. In fact, he’s sporting a VR headset designed by HTC called Vive. It’s one of the more popular VR devices out today, a direct competitor of Oculus’s Rift. So what is it doing here, featured in Microsoft’s mixed reality demonstration? Well, MSFT aims to bridge the gap (see a trend here?) between competing VR and AR offerings by opening up the Windows Holographic platform to partners including HTC, ASUS, Intel, Dell, HP, Lenovo and other pioneers in the PC market. Whether or not Microsoft succeeds in becoming the definitive holographic interface is a question for another day, but you must commend its forward-thinking initiative for inclusivity.
The first step in creating this future was taken in March when Microsoft began shipping out the first HoloLens units to developers. The company says that there are already hundreds of Windows Holographic-infused apps in the Windows Store today as developers continue to mine the headset and its underlying, universal platform for its potential across a multitude of industries including entertainment and education.
With the Rift and Vive out in the wild, and Sony’s PS4-powered PSVR device just around the corner, VR is about to blow up and it sure will be interesting to watch Microsoft respond with a decidedly different approach to our
VR AR MR future.