Microsoft has revealed Microsoft Mesh, a mixed-reality platform for HoloLens 2 and other “compatible” devices that makes use of holograms to enable virtual meetings and more.
Built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service, the Mesh will be capable of presenting virtual realistic 3D holograms of people through what is called holoportation. During Microsoft Ignite 2021 (skip to 4:06:00), Microsoft Technical Fellow and host Alex Kipman made use of the feature to project a hologram of himself in a virtual underwater setting for the presentation. However, The Verge wrote that Mesh will first make use of the less realistic virtual avatars from Altspace VR before supporting holoportation.
“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.”
One of the ads shown during the presentation envisions the platform being used to host virtual meetings with even those in other countries. It’s not just about seeing other people either, as Mesh will also allow for collaborative virtual design. “With Microsoft Mesh-enabled applications, designers or engineers who work with 3D physical models — anything from bicycles to high-end furniture to jet engines to new sports stadiums — could appear as themselves in a shared virtual space to collaborate and iterate on holographic models, regardless of their physical location,” wrote Microsoft in an Innovation Stories article.
Additionally, the nonprofit OceanX announced a collaboration with Microsoft to create a Mesh-enabled holographic laboratory. Microsoft says that this will allow people to “see 3D holograms of the areas” which OceanX’s deepsea vehicles explore and probe. Meanwhile, the Lune Rouge company is looking to enable virtual attendance for concerts and such. The technology can also be applied to games, with a proof-of-concept HoloLens demo of Pokémon GO being shown at the presentation.
Microsoft has so far announced two apps that are built on Mesh, which are the HoloLens Microsoft Mesh app and the Mesh-enabled Altspace VR. Microsoft says that the former allows for remote collaboration, while the latter allows for virtual meetings and work gatherings with “enterprise-grade security features”. The company says that it expects “a growing set of Microsoft Mesh-enabled applications built by external developers and partners” and “planned integration with Microsoft products such as Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365” over time.