Ignite 2021: Microsoft unveils new mixed reality platform, Microsoft Mesh

Ignite 2021: Microsoft unveils new mixed reality platform, Microsoft Mesh

Azure-powered technology enables users to join shared holographic experiences 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Microsoft has unveiled its new mixed reality platform, Microsoft Mesh, at the virtual Microsoft Ignite event. The Azure-powered technology enables users in different locations to join shared holographic experiences on many kinds of device.

Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman demonstrated the platform onstage by appearing as a holoportation, with rays of light simulating his physical body.

“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.”

The new platform builds on years of Microsoft research in hand and eye tracking and HoloLens to develop holograms and artificial intelligence (AI) models that can create lifelike avatars. Its basis on Azure ensures enterprise-grade security and privacy features, as well as computational resources, data, AI and mixed reality services, said Microsoft writer Jennifer Langston in a recent news story

Langston suggests that Microsoft Mesh could see significant implementation in industry. For example, “designers or engineers who work with 3D physical models could appear as themselves in a shared virtual space to collaborate and iterate on holographic models, regardless of their physical location”. 

Architects and engineers could use the platform to walk through holographic models of factory floors to guide construction and prevent mistakes, and medical students could gather as avatars around a holographic model to explore the human anatomy. 

Nonprofit OceanX also appeared at Ignite to discuss a new collaboration with Microsoft. It is creating a Mesh-enabled “holographic laboratory” on research vessel OceanXplorer to create 3D holograms of the areas being explored. The organisation uses technology to support ocean education and awareness, and vice chairman Vincent Pieribone claims that the new endeavour could “guide scientific missions in real time”.

“When you think about what it actually takes to usher in a new medium for computing, you have to make deep investments across the ecosystem, which is really what Microsoft has done,” said Kipman. “Now we invite people to go create value on top of that and benefit from the years of really hard research and development we’ve done to offer them these features in a turnkey way.”

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