M+E Daily

Microsoft Exec: Mixed Reality is ‘Next Evolution in Human Computing’

Microsoft is stepping up its Windows Mixed Reality initiatives on the hardware and software fronts, according to comments made by EVP Terry Myerson in a keynote webcast from IFA in Berlin on Sept. 1.

“By combining our physical and digital worlds, we believe mixed reality is the next evolution in human computing,” he said.

On the software side of the equation, the next update of Windows 10 – the Fall Creators Update – will offer immersive new experiences made possible by Windows Mixed Reality when it’s released globally Oct. 17, he said.

Microsoft has already been fielding mixed reality with its own HoloLens smart glasses. But that product has hardly been accessible to average consumers, costing $3,000 for a Development Edition and $5,000 for a Commercial Suite version.

However, Windows Mixed Reality will become more affordable for consumers this fall, when a wide range of Microsoft manufacturer partners – including Acer, Asus, Dell, Hewlett Packard (HP) and Lenovo – will start offering their own compatible headsets, Myerson said.

The devices will start as low as $299 and begin shipping Oct. 17, when the Fall Creators Update is released, he said, noting the hardware will be easy to set up and not require users to mount cameras around their rooms. All a user will have to do is place the headset on his or her head, plug it into a PC and get started, leaving the user’s hands free to interact with the mixed world, he said.

Acer will offer a Windows Mixed Reality Headset with motion controllers, Myerson said in a blog post Sept. 1. When the headset is paired with the controllers, users will be able to “take advantage of the full position and rotational tracking in the headset to easily create content or play games,” he said.

The Windows Mixed Reality headset will ship in spring 2018 and offer a “unique design with a pattern of hundreds of 3D polygons and glossy tone-on-tone effect,” he said.

The Dell Visor will feature high-resolution, 1440 x 1440 LCD panels for what he said will be a “sharp and smooth 360° panoramic experience for an ‘as-if-you-are-there’ view.” The device was “thoughtfully engineered for comfort and convenience with well-cushioned head and face padding that allow for comfortable wear, even for users who wear glasses,” he said.
The HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset will also be bundled with motion controllers, while the Lenovo Explorer headset was “ergonomically designed and optimized for comfort so you can immerse yourself in mixed reality experiences for long periods,” he said.

For those without a headset, Microsoft will also deliver mixed reality experiences via the PC with Mixed Reality Viewer enabling users to see 3D objects – either from the Remix3D.com community or their own creations from Paint 3D – mixed into their actual surroundings through the cameras on their PCs, he said.