Windows has been slowly progressing toward their so called Mixed Reality era for several years. Microsoft first unveiled the HoloLens, the first self-contained holographic computer back in January 2015. Since then Microsoft has built up partnerships expanding and optimizing the space to create a need that their hardware could fill.
Yesterday, Microsoft unveiled their latest addition to their mixed reality headsets, the Samsung HMD Odyssey. In addition to the headset, they also talked about working with SteamVR as well as the addition of AltspaceVR. If that wasn’t enough a new Halo game, Halo Recruit was introduced. Finally, Microsoft opened pre-orders for its highly anticipated headsets.
Microsoft is really going all in on where mixed reality will take the company in the future. Their goal is to see mixed reality integrated in the modern workplace with personal use soon to follow. The company wants to expand the idea of a work space outside of the digital space. They want to have the digital and physical worlds become one. This may sound a bit on the science fiction side, however the company is aware that it is not immediate and may take years and years to get there.
By committing to the concept of mixed reality, Windows has been designed to be an OS that functions in this mixed reality space. The key here is that it is an established OS with a purpose in mind while it was being designed. This was not retrofitted after-the-fact to fit the new mission statement. This seamless flow may be just what Microsoft needs to push mixed reality into the hands of people and companies who would otherwise have not given it a second thought.
Samsung HMD Odyssey
The Samsung HMD Odyssey is the newest addition to the impressive Windows mixed reality headsets previously announced. The headset, like previously announced ones, does not require any external mounted sensors. Eyesight is tracked within the headset and the controllers contain motion controls to pinpoint movement in the VR space.
As with all mixed reality headsets, setup is touted to be the easiest and quickest in the market. Microsoft claims that within 10 minutes the headset will be setup and working. That quickly you can jump into your amazing experiences without any time consuming and frustrating installs.
The Odyssey features dual screens in the headsets providing a 110-degree field of view, which is one of the widest you will find in the VR market. The built-in AKG headphones makes sure that they stay on during game play with 360 degree sound in every direction. The Odyssey really stands out in that it is the only mixed reality headset to include an integrated microphone array. The array reduces noise so you can communicate with teammates or even interact with Cortana while still inside the game or VR space.
Halo Recruit and SteamVR
It was announced that on October 17th, Halo fans will also be getting a treat. 343 Industries said that Halo Recruit will give fans an introduction to Halo in mixed reality for the first time. While this isn’t a full fledged game, or part of an existing game, it will give a glimpse as to the future for the Halo franchise.
The 5-minute Halo Recruit experience will be available for fans to try in Microsoft Stores, and as a free download from the Windows Store on October 17th. Keep in mind that you will, of course, need a mixed reality headset to play.
Gamers will not just have Halo to look forward to on the mixed reality headsets. On top of more than 20,000 apps on the Microsoft Store and a host of already listed games, Microsoft went to the holy mountain of games, Steam. Starting immediately, developers will be provided access to the Windows Mixed Reality Steam VR preview so that they can try out their experiences. This holiday season the preview will open up to consumers.
For those unfamiliar, AltspaceVR is at the forefront of virtual reality meetings, conferences, and large scale events. AltspaceVR joining Microsoft means that many current meeting products from Microsoft like Skype for Business and Teams will have a VR space to work in. This is a vital step toward making business adopt the technology.
As the business world moves more and more to cloud computing and virtual environments; a centrally located workforce becomes less and less necessary. By introducing a VR component to meetings and gatherings, business can maintain a sense of normalcy.
Mixed reality is here and Microsoft is anxious to get it into consumer’s hands. Pre-orders are now available for all of their headsets via the Microsoft store. The incoming release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will bring mixed reality to Windows PCs and now you can get the hardware to take advantage of the functionality to see if it really is the next step in computing as Microsoft says.