BUILD, Microsoft’s annual developer conference began on 10th of May. The second day keynote saw Microsoft reiterating that Mixed Reality is the future of computing. This time there was something very cohesive about the their plans for MR and its future.
Let’s take a look at the highlights of the day-2 keynote.
- They announced the next update to windows 10 dubbed “The Fall Creators Update“.
- They also showed the new design language called “Fluent Design“. It focusses on 5 elements namely “Light, Depth, Motion, Material and Scale.”
- They announced Motion Sensors for mixed reality. It will be bundled with headsets like Acer’s to enable a more interactive experience.
- Microsoft Graph which enables true mobility across devices using Cloud technologies was also shown.
- They showed how HoloLens and other mixed reality experiences are redefining industrial and artistic creations across the world.
What does all this have to do with MR?
Many people will think like this after seeing all this seemingly not-so-related announcements. This is why I said there is something cohesive about their vision. So let me explain them one by one:
Fall creator’s update
This will be the foundation on which all of these technologies work. With windows 10 Microsoft is running effectively the same OS across different device categories. Every experience Microsoft plans to deliver will be running on this and future versions of windows. This is the cornerstone for everything else that follows.
Fluent Design Language
Fluent design language is of particular interest for MR. It relies on super-smooth animations and blur effects for a more natural experience. I think MR is the main reason (along with consumer feedback) that Microsoft is introducing a new design language.
Don’t get me wrong, the original flat design Microsoft introduced with Metro was beautiful. It made and still makes sense to use it on traditional screen-based devices. MR is another story, its very foundation is immersion and the traditional metro designs won’t make the cut. Flat and opaque nature of the MDL 2.0* makes the immersive content feels somewhat restrictive. Fluent’s five components (Light, Motion, Material, Depth, Scale) are exactly those that make the MR experience immersive .
By incorporating these into the core design of OS Microsoft is killing two birds in one shot. It makes sure that its ecosystem is more than ready to embrace MR aesthetically. It also makes sure that regular users get a nice design refresh to keep things fresh and inviting.
They unveiled new Motion trackers for Windows Mixed Reality. In my first article I theorized why Project Scorpio has the potential to change VR gaming experiences. This product completes the Project Scorpio and Windows Mixed Reality proposition. The reasons being:
- Both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive requires extra tracking equipment etc. They also depends on a variety of factors such as lighting and room-size.
- The VR headset and trackers use the same tracking technology as the HoloLens. That means as long as your hands are in front of your eyes (which for the most part will be), they will be efficiently tracked.
- Microsoft has confirmed that these will be a simple Plug-and-Play units thereby eliminating the need for any additional setups.
Now, think how it all will stack up if this is also a simple Plug-and-Play for Scorpio too. That means you get stunning quality due to Scorpio’s hardware and the superior tracking experience of HoloLens. Add to this the pricing of 399$ for the bundle which is a good 100$ cheaper than PlayStation VR. It’s an “offer that they(users) cant refuse”.
While being an expensive piece of kit, HoloLens is creating revolutions in how people create. Autodesk and Cirque de solei showed how HoloLens has transformed the way they work.
- Autodesk showed how they are using HoloLens to create immersive models of SketchBook models.
- Cirque de Solei is using HoloLens to create the entire show beforehand in actual scale. Fundamentally changing how they create while saving money. Find the Demo here Cirque De Solei.
- Watch how HoloLens is impacting industries and people around the world here.https://1drv.ms/v/s!Aq1O2_X9ESStlfdhoqMe5n9zA6wWTw
Before ending this let me make a prediction. While surface phone rumours has been flying around for eternity, there has been nothing concrete. Nadella has said that they are looking for the “Ultimate mobile device”. Everything announced at this build makes sense to be extremely useful on such a device. Windows 10 on ARM is coming which allows full windows 10 on mobile chipsets.
What if they release a device that takes advantage of everything announced at the event. A device that has fluent design language both in and out. With the power of full windows 10 and the millions of win32 apps along with UWP apps.
At build MS has shown that it has all it needs to succeed in MR. They are really betting high on these technologies while helping developers create beautiful experiences. Hence I can’t wait for E3 where MS will probably show all the MR goodness coming to windows.
As Always fingers crossed.