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Microsoft embraces Mixed Reality future with Microsoft Mesh

Microsoft announces new AR/VR developer tools at Ignite event

Microsoft Mesh, making its debut at the annual Ignite conference, is an Azure-powered AR and VR platform that will one day allow users to collaborate on projects in real-time using "holoportation" and will give developers tools to create other experiences.

Microsoft announced several new initiatives across its platforms during the first day of Microsoft Ignite, and Microsoft Mesh was the standout announcement. The platform will enable virtual experiences to be shared in a mixed reality environment and gives developers tools to create other experiences on and off of the HoloLens.

"This has been the dream for mixed reality, the idea from the very beginning," said Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman. "You can actually feel like you're in the same place with someone sharing content or you can teleport from different mixed reality devices and be present with people even when you're not physically together."

Microsoft calls the collaborative feature "holoportation," which shows a virtual version of yourself or an avatar in a physical location. The presentation was delivered by Kipman as a holoportation.

The demos showed off presentation software, meetings held in virtual spaces, and even Pokemon Go in mixed reality. Microsoft says that developers can use the tools provided by the Microsoft Mesh platform to develop experiences within Mesh or to create experiences for smartphones or VR headsets.

Microsoft Mesh and Niantic demo of mixed reality in 'Pokemon Go'
Microsoft Mesh and Niantic demo of mixed reality in 'Pokemon Go'

This push for augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality from Microsoft shows its continued commitment to the HoloLens platform. The company believes that the next revolution in computing will be in these mixed reality experiences and software.

Microsoft announced two apps built on the Microsoft Mesh platform — the Microsoft Mesh app for HoloLens and AltspaceVR. The company expects users will be able to choose from more apps and experiences including integration with Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365.

Apple has shown similar interest in mixed reality applications. Rumors of smart glasses called "Apple Glass" have circulated for years, and are expected sometime before 2024. Another Apple project lies in VR, specifically an Apple VR headset.