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Microsoft Mesh could bring mixed reality to your next video conference

By Ken Wong - on 4 Mar 2021, 1:19pm

Microsoft Mesh could bring mixed reality to your next video conference

Want a video conference at the bottom of the ocean? Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Announced during Microsoft’s Ignite 2021 conference, Microsoft Mesh is a new mixed-reality platform powered by Azure that allows people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences on many kinds of devices.

It’s basically like creating an avatar and being in a video game and interacting with the world you see, except that the people are your colleagues or customers, and the world is a virtual concept. Think Second Life meets The Office.

Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman said that the new platform is the result of Microsoft’s research and development in areas ranging from hand and eye-tracking and HoloLens development to creating holograms and artificial intelligence models to create expressive avatars.

Developers will be able to take advantage of Azure’s security and privacy features, computational resources, data, AI and mixed reality services.

The Microsoft Mesh platform will in coming months offer developers a full suite of AI-powered tools for avatars, session management, spatial rendering, synchronisation across multiple users and holoportation to build collaborative solutions in mixed reality, the company said.

Microsoft Mesh will work across multiple platforms with support confirmed on Microsoft’s HoloLens and the Oculus Quest 2 standalone VR headset. There are also reports that other supported AR/VR Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) will also have Mesh support.

Avatars of colleagues could be the new way we interact. Image courtesy of Microsoft.


VR worlds created and explored

Join scientists and explore the ocean deeps. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

At Ignite, OceanX, a non-profit organisation, is collaborating with Microsoft to create a Mesh-enabled “holographic laboratory” on OceanXplorer, one of the most advanced research and deep-sea exploration vessels ever built. Scientists could gather in — either in person or virtually from labs and offices around the world — to see 3D holograms of the areas the vehicles are exploring.

Imagine catching Pokemon in a virtual world! Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Pokémon GO developers Niantic demonstrated a proof-of-concept demo experience that runs on HoloLens 2. Unfortunately not yet a consumer product Niantic founder John Hanke and a bevy of Pokémon at his favourite park were joined by Veronica Saron, product marketing manager for Pokémon GO, to battle in a shared mixed-reality session.

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