May 2, 2017

Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, Brandon Bray, showed off Microsoft’s plans for virtual reality at the VR/AR Summit 2017.

With the Windows Holographic headset set to debut later this year, Microsoft is very much preparing to enter the VR and AR arena and used the opportunity to communicate the current state of play. Bray highlighted that currently 91 percent of the ‘holographic’ apps built for Windows headsets (including HoloLens) were constructed using the Unity game engine. An app demonstrated showcased the ease Microsoft seems to have evolved into the development suite that allows for apps to be extremely similar in content when it comes to virtual and augmented reality with only the immersive element differing in each case.

“Mixed reality allows me to place a hologram in a room, and walk around it, interact with it, and engage with it as if it were really there. It also allows me to take objects, people and places from the real world and bring them into the digital world and create entirely new experiences,” said Bray speaking about the capabilities of the Microsoft HoloLens.

The app, called Cliff House, is a virtual home that is meant to act as a showcase what the Windows operating system would be if imagined in virtual reality. According to Bray, it allows you to place and arrange your apps around the space where you can create a number of customized areas, much like a desktop on a computer. You can create a gaming basement, an office or a home cinema, or even just a spot to relax on the balcony overlooking the world mimicking the way HoloLens simulates the method of choosing which Windows apps you want to use and sticking them around your house.

Cliff House appears to be very much like the Windows 10 UI and shell in HoloLens but more adapted to virtual reality interaction.

The Acer-built Windows Holographic headset is one of the first to arrive, with similar headsets coming from various manufacturers including Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo later in 2017. The Windows Holographic VR headset users will have access to over 20,000 universal Windows apps along with immersive WebVR via Microsoft Edge.

It certainly seems that Microsoft have put a lot of effort and focus into ensuring not only the technology for virtual and augmented reality is up to scratch but consumable media exists for the platform from day one. You can check out the full keynote on Unity’s YouTube channel here.

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