Years of Microsoft research on hand and eye tracking, HoloLens development and artificial intelligence has finally reaped fruit in the form of much anticipated mixed reality miracle, Microsoft Mesh. This new mixed reality platform, powered by Azure will bridge the gap between geographical locations, enabling diverse teams to have collaborative meetings, virtual design sessions and meet ups. As per the statements of the company, in the initial level, people will be able to express themselves as avatars and take part in these virtual experiences. And with time, the company plans to deploy holoportation that will enable the users to project their lifelike, photorealistic selves. All of a sudden, the world of ‘Tommorowland’ is not so tomorrow after all.
Here is what Alex Kipman, Microsoft technical fellow has to say about the technology,
“This has been the dream for mixed reality, the idea from the very beginning. 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.”
The company showcased the novel experiences offered by the technology at Microsoft’s Ignite Digital Conference on Tuesday. The intrigue of the conference was taken up a notch by the virtual presence of Guy Laliberte, Co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, who appeared using holoportation, a live example of the 3D capture technology that can project the lifelike image into the virtual scene. The shared holographic world created by this very first keynote experience of the company, exclusively curated for mixed reality, gave the audience a true taste of future that was being realised in the present. Along with Alex Kipman, filmmaker and ocean explorer, James Cameron and John Hanke, CEO and founder of Niantic also shared the virtual dais, portraying the experience offered by Microsoft mesh across the physical and virtual world.
Microsoft Mesh is built on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure. Therefore it channels the enterprise-grade security and privacy of Azure in addition to its wide range of its computational resources, data, AI and mixed reality services. According to Kipman, the company is building value in Azure, their intelligent cloud. Since the content of the collaborative experiences is stored in the cloud, the only pre requisite is the special lenses. With the applications offered by Microsoft Mesh, collaborations and discussions across the world will be upgraded with added convenience and ease, opening a wide range of opportunities. Engineers working with 3D physical models can appear as themselves and collaborate on the model irrespective of their locations. Medical students learning human anatomy could gather around a 3D model in a virtual space and conduct in depth study. Trainings and meetings would be made easier and convenient.
In the coming months, the company will upgrade the platform with a full suite of AI powered tools and holoportation for mixed reality solutions. With the platform’s open standards, the developers will have the freedom to work across diverse devices whether it be tablets, PC’s, smartphones, VR headsets or even HoloLens 2.
The Ignite conference also witnessed the announcement of two apps built on Microsoft Mesh. The Microsoft Mesh app for HoloLens enables collaboration among team members and is available for download. On the other hand, Mesh-enabled Altspace VR will enable companies to conduct virtual reality meetings and gatherings with enterprise grade security features. These apps are supposedly the forerunners of the wide range of applications that would be made available by the company in due course. Inevitably, mixed reality will prove to be the ‘next big medium for collaborative computing’ as stated by Kipman.
In short, Microsoft Mesh holds within a wide range of possibilities. Solutions that were earlier dismissed as impossible and time consuming will find a new ground to prosper with the platform.