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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Announces a Hologram-Based Mixed-Reality Communication Platform Called Microsoft Mesh

Microsoft Announces a Hologram-Based Mixed-Reality Communication Platform Called Microsoft Mesh

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During the recent virtual Ignite conference, Microsoft announced Microsoft Mesh, an Azure-based cloud platform allowing developers to build immersive, multiuser, cross-platform mixed reality apps. Furthermore, customers can leverage Mesh to enhance virtual meetings, conduct virtual design sessions, assist remote work better, learn together virtually, host virtual social gatherings and meet-ups.

After PCs, the internet, and smartphones, customers are now experiencing virtual, augmented, and mixed reality as the fourth wave in computing. And many of the fortune 500 companies have deployed HoloLens and other Mixed Reality (MR) solutions. Yet, they have faced problems such as bringing high-fidelity 3D models into MR to support the file formats they have or the substantial time and resources necessary to have people represented naturally in MR. Microsoft tries to solve that with Mesh to provide a platform for developers to design immersive multiuser MR apps without worrying about complicated technical problems.

The platform brings support for various devices, ranging from the fully immersive head-mounted displays (HMDs) like Microsoft HoloLens, HP Reverb G2, or Oculus Quest 2 for 3-dimensional volumetric experience, to phones and tablets on iOS or Android for convenience, through to the fully tethered experience in PCs and Mac for 2-dimensional viewpoint. Furthermore, it brings a developer platform with Azure at its core and a toolkit consisting of a cross-platform developer SDK to create apps for the supported devices. According to a Tech Community blog post, the SDK supports Unity alongside native C++ and C#, and in the coming months, Mesh will also have support for Unreal, Babylon, and React Native.

The developer platform will also include some critical AI-powered capabilities that allow Mesh to address some of the most complicated technical challenges, such as immersive presence, spatial maps, holographic rendering, and multiuser sync - enabling massive multiuser online (MMO) scenarios for mixed reality.

And lastly, on top of the development platform, Microsoft Mesh also delivers some apps: the HoloLens 2 Mesh app and AltspaceVR with new enterprise capabilities - which are instantiations of the collaborative experience that Mesh can light up for immersive headsets.  At Ignite on stage, according to Microsoft News report, Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman said :

More and more, we are building value in our intelligent cloud, which is Azure. In these collaborative experiences, the content is not inside my device or inside my application. The holographic content is in the cloud, and I just need the special lenses that allow me to see it.

Next to the HoloLens 2 Mesh app and AltspaceVR, the company will bring other apps onboard, like Teams, Dynamics 365, and partners.

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