Microsoft’s Mesh aims for mixed-reality meetings of the future

Microsoft offered a glimpse of what it believes will be the future of remote collaboration at Ignite on Tuesday, with workers one day able to interact with holographic items and talk to photo-realistic, life-like “holoportation” avatars of their colleagues.

The vision is based on the potential of Microsoft Mesh, a new Azure-based developer SDK that enables the creation of collaborative mixed-reality apps that can be used across multiple devices.

Microsoft hopes that Mesh will boost the ecosystem of mixed-reality development, abstracting some of the technical problems involved in the creation of virtual environments. Collaborative apps can then be delivered across any platform, whether it be Microsoft’s own $3,500 HoloLens 2 headsets or those from competitors such as Oculus, as well as on regular laptops or smartphones.

Speaking during the company’s Ignite event this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella compared Mesh to “what Xbox Live did for gaming.

“We went from single player to multiple player, creating communities that helped people connect and achieve together,” he said. “Now, just imagine if the same thing happened with mixed reality. Mesh enables you to interact holographically with others with true presence in a natural way.”

The prospect of workers attending team meetings via 3D photo-realistic “holoportation” is still at the concept stage, and is not publicly available. What is ready for use is a Mesh app for HoloLens. This allows multiple colleagues to join remote collaboration “spaces” using Microsoft’s headset with more simplistic, animated avatars representing meeting participants. Users can then annotate, draw and import 2D and 3D content from OneDrive into the shared virtual environment.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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