Microsoft has revealed a brand-new platform for its future of augmented and mixed reality development named Mesh, enabling users to truly experience shared virtual spaces with holograms.
At Microsoft Ignite, the company unveiled its vision of the future for HoloLens 2 and the devices that succeed it, where users will be able to occupy shared virtual spaces and interact with holograms that are persistent between users. This means being able to toss a key, for example, from your hand to that of another participant, something which was demonstrated by guest James Cameron (director of Avatar) and Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté.
Mesh looks like an extension of the work Microsoft has done with HoloLens 2, seeking to expand its collaborative possibilities that have already been useful in numerous enterprise applications. For games, however, it still seems rooted in proof of concept. Much like the old Minecraft HoloLens demo from E3, Microsoft only briefly touched on gaming with a demo of Pokémon Go. The game wasn’t running natively on HoloLens or Mesh but presented the idea of being able to walk in a park, feed a Pikachu, and engage in trainer battles within a shared virtual environment.
HoloLens 2 remains an expensive and highly specialized tool sold exclusively to enterprises, but Mesh holds the promise of eventually becoming a new standard for collaborative, remote work and shared entertainment. This isn’t something Microsoft is pitching as a product just yet, but rather a platform for AR and MR developers to start tinkering with as the industry inches closer and closer to more mainstream consumer devices.
Apple seems to have similar ideas, with suggestions that it is also working on its own VR solution that will be similarly priced to HoloLens 2 at over $2000. Unlike Microsoft’s headset, Apple reportedly plans to sell its device to consumers, too.