Microsoft unveils ‘mixed reality’ holoportation technology

Microsoft has unveiled a mixed reality platform which uses holographic technologies on a range of devices to enable people in different physical locations to share in experiences and collaborate.

Microsoft Mesh, which runs on Azure’s cloud-based platform, enables users of Microsoft HoloLens, VR headsets, smartphones, tablets or PCs to collaborate, solve problems and design new things from different places.

The technology was unveiled by Alex Kipman, technical fellow, Microsoft AI + Mixed Reality at Microsoft’s Ignite event.

Kipman appeared on the virtual stage as a fully realized holoportation of himself, narrating the show’s opening experience in real time as rays of light that simulated his physical body.

Holoportation, uses 3D capture technology to beam a lifelike image of a person into a virtual scene. In the company’s first keynote experience designed entirely for mixed reality, people attending the conference from living rooms and home offices around the world could experience the show as avatars watching events unfold in a shared holographic world, Microsoft said in a blog post.

“This has been the dream for mixed reality, the idea from the very beginning,” said 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.”

James Cameron, the filmmaker and ocean explorer, and John Hanke, chief executive and founder of leading augmented reality company Niantic also joined Kipman remotely to spotlight how Microsoft Mesh is helping them create shared experiences across the virtual and physical worlds.

Cameron, discussed how OceanX, a non-profit that merges cutting edge science with compelling storytelling and product and technology experiences to support ocean awareness, will be collaborating with Microsoft to create a Mesh-enabled “holographic laboratory” on the OceanXplorer.

Hanke,demonstrated Niantic’s work on a proof-of-concept Pokémon GO demo experience that runs on HoloLens 2. The demo showcased Niantic and Microsoft’s vision for their new collaboration that will build on the two companies mixed and augmented reality capabilities.

In a blog post Microsoft said that Mesh will also “enable geographically distributed teams to have more collaborative meetings, conduct virtual design sessions, assist others, learn together and host virtual social meetups. People will initially be able to express themselves as avatars in these shared virtual experiences and over time use holoportation to project themselves as their most lifelike, photorealistic selves.”

Over time, the company said it expects customers will be able to choose from a growing set of Microsoft Mesh-enabled applications built by external developers and partners, and also to benefit from planned integration with Microsoft products such as Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365.

“This is why we’ve been so passionate about mixed reality as the next big medium for collaborative computing,” Kipman said. “It’s magical when two people see the same hologram.”

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