Tag Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Vision for Mixed and Mixing Realities

A couple of days ago the RoadtoVR website posted about Microsoft’s parent for a wand like controller which appeared in the concept video above. I thought it was worth re-posting the video here as it provides a good indication of what a mixed reality future might look like. In particular it considers a future where augmented and virtual reality systems are used side by side. Where some companies firmly backed one platform or the other, VR in the case of Oculus and the HTC Vive, AR in the case of Meta, more established companies like Microsoft and Google have the resources and brand penetration to back both. Whether Apple follows suite or commits everything to AR following the recent release of ARKit remains to be seen. As such it is interesting to compare the kind of mixed reality ecosystems they want to create. Its then up to developers and consumers to determine which hardware, and by extension which vision, they are most inclined to back.

There are many challenges to overcome before this kind of mixed reality interaction becomes possible. The situated use of AR by the character Penny, and use of VR for telepresence by Samir are particularly well motivated. But what are the characters Samir and Chi actually going to see in this interaction? Will it make a difference if they don’t experience each other’s presence to the same degree? And, how is Samir’s position going to be referenced relative to Penny’s? There are many technical challenges still to be overcome, and compromises will need to be made. For companies like Microsoft and Google the challenge for them is in convincing developers and consumers that the hardware ecosystem they are providing is sufficiently close to their vision of that mixed reality future today…and crucially all at the right price.

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Microsoft HoloLens for Architecture and Civil Engineering

Where virtual reality is fantastic for visualising and immersing a user in a scene at a human scale I’ve always felt that augmented reality provided a greater range of options for visualising data at scale. In a bid to bring HoloLens to the wider world of architecture and engineering Microsoft have recently initiated an exciting partnership with the American company Trimble. Trimble primarily work providing hardware, software and services for the provision of locational data to a range of industries including land survey, construction, transportation, telecommunications, utilities and asset tracking and management. I think this partnership offers a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the potential of HoloLens and augmented reality to work on projects of a larger scale.

 

The most obvious value it provides is helping professionals visualise their data in 3D. In this video Microsoft and Trimble demonstrate how the virtual hologram could be integrated with a traditional physical model to collaboratively visualise and quickly iterate through alternative proposals. The chosen solution can then be visualised on the human scale to verify the proposal. Further than this the video hints at the power of HoloLens to provide crucial data wherever and whenever it is needed during construction, while simultaneously providing the ability to record changes and decisions on the spot. In this way HoloLens and other technologies like it could prove indispensable for urban planning, construction and asset management for the life of a development. Beyond the marketing though it will be fascinating test it to see whether the device can live up to its users’ expectations.