Microsoft is holding a Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality event on October 4. The tech company coined the term “Mixed Reality” to differentiate their headsets from other headsets on the market like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. When announced, the headsets were dubbed “the Microsoft Holographic,” but the name was changed before release in March 2016.
The Microsoft HoloLens, the premiere software made for Windows Mixed Reality, is a computer-containing set of smart-glasses connected to an adjustable, cushioned inner headband. Speakers are located at the side of the headset near the user’s ears.
Mixed reality headsets are available to the public through the Microsoft store and other retailers. New headsets are expected to be announced at the Mixed Reality Event on October 3. The new headsets are expected to release this month, ahead of the holiday season.
Here’s what you need to know about Microsoft Mixed Reality and the HoloLens:
1. The HoloLens Costs $3,000
The HoloLens features a custom-made Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit (HPU), which was manufactured specifically for the HoloLens by Microsoft. It’s no wonder these headsets cost so much.
The HoloLens is marketed for use in business. The HoloLens allows the consumer to interact with content and information in natural ways. The user uses simple gestures to open apps, resize and select items and drag and drop holograms in your world. It also responds to voice commands.
The Microsoft Website also advertises the HoloLens as a way to collaborate over the web. When you use Skype with the HoloLens, your contacts can send you sketches and holograms to see physical objects that they need you to see.
The HoloLens is available to purchase for individual developers for $3,000. There is also a commercial suite that includes a warranty and security features for $5,000.
2. The Chief Inventor of the HoloLens is Alex Kipman
Alex Kipman has been with Microsoft for over 15 years, and he will be showing off the new HoloLens and headsets at Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Event on October 3.
Kipman was born in Brazil and joined Microsoft after graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has specifically worked on Visual Studio and the Windows and XBox departments at Microsoft.
Kipman is the creator behind the Kinect motion controller, which launched in 2010 and quickly became the fastest-selling consumer device of all time. He was named one of Time’s “Top 25 Nerds of the year” in 2011.
3. The Mixed Reality Headsets Come With Motion Controllers
According to The Verge, each motion controller has a series of white LEDs at the top that allow the headset to track them. The headset tracks your motion controls even if you turn around or have to grab something behind your back.
Most of the headsets are bundled with the motion controller, so you shouldn’t have to spend anything extra to get your hands on a set of controllers, but double check before you buy to make sure you get the full experience for games that require motion controls.
4. Microsoft Headsets Will Have Steam Support
Since the virtual and mixed reality headsets rely heavily on video games for sales, and Microsoft is pushing the idea that every game could benefit from VR apps.
Specifically, Microsoft will be bringing Minecraft VR and Halo to mixed reality. Minecraft has been available for virtual reality headsets before, but this will be the first go-round for Halo. Kipman noted that the developers are working with 343 industries to bring Halo to the mixed reality platform, possibly as soon as this holiday season. We can expect more game announcements to come out at the event on October 3.
The introduction of Windows Mixed Reality headsets is a big step forward for VR. Working with Microsoft to include Steam VR compatibility with these devices is also a big step in growing VR as an open platform for developers and consumers. With a broad range of hardware options available from leading PC manufacturers, the Steam community will have more choice than ever to experience the amazing potential of VR.
With the announcement that Steam VR games will be available in Microsoft headsets, video game enthusiasts can be excited for widely available games that can be purchased from outside the Windows store.
5. You Can Stream Netflix in Mixed Reality
According to a post by digitaltrends.com, a Netflix app will be developed for Mixed Reality headsets. The post reports a job posting about creating the Netflix app for the Microsoft devices, and the report was later confirmed by Netflix. The content watched on Netflix won’t be in 3D, but it will be in an immersive environment like that created by the Netflix app on the Oculus Rift. This is a good indicator that other apps already available in the Microsoft store will also be available for purchase and use on the headsets as well.
Other apps that will be available include Hulu and LifeVR, an app that lets you experience some of the content from TIME magazine and other brands through 360° video and interactive virtual reality experiences. Mixed Reality headsets will also be able to be connected to supported PCs. Digitaltrends has a list of specs needed to connect the headsets to PC here.
We’ll be expecting more apps and games for the headsets to be announced at the Microsoft Mixed Reality event.