Last week, Microsoft announced that it would be opening its Windows Holographic platform for partner firms seeking to develop products for the Hololens ecosystem. Microsoft was already working with a range of partners ranging from Intel and AMD to Qualcomm to create hardware that can support mixed-reality environments.
“We are providing an opportunity for our OEM, OMD and developer partners to build devices and experiences that utilize the Windows Holographic platfom to built mixed reality perception-capable experiences regardless of whether they are developing AR, VR or anything in-between,” stated a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement.
“For our OEM and OMD partners, this means new business opportunities through unlocked device capability and experiences. For developers, this represents a first step in growing and scaling our platform.”
The virtual reality market has attracted a lot of interest from many industry leaders; it could crash and burn like it did in the 80’s, or foster a new technological frontier that grows to 80 million devices per year by 2020 as Terry Myerson, executive vice president for Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, believes will happen. According to Myerson, there’s a huge financial opportunity to be taken in terms of making systems interactive with the physical world and each other.
“However,” Myerson says, “many of today’s devices do not work with each other, provide different user interfaces, interaction models, input methods, peripherals and content… And most virtual reality experiences can’t mix real people, objects and environments into the virtual world, making creation and collaboration difficult.”
Microsoft has focused its virtual reality efforts on creating new boundaries in the realm of mixed reality, integrating virtual reality tools with the actual physical spaces where people are using them. Many people have seen the real money in the development of “augmented reality,” which will allow people to use VR developments without blinding themselves to the important physical aspects of their actual surroundings. AR could also help in many different industries. Specialists are already making AR glasses for auto mechanics that don’t have time to thumb through manuals to identify miniscule parts. Some concept cars have been revealed with AR dashboards that allow drivers to follow virtual cars for the sake of GPS.
Many industry leaders are excited by the potential for AR to facilitate teamwork in work environments that span the globe. Global collaboration could free businesses from physical boundaries that can impede their ability to find talent and combine forces across great spans of land.
For this reason, eyes are on Microsoft to see what new innovations they will come up with.
“At its heart is an effort to rethink personal computing completely and create an interface that integrates with the world, not just an individual piece of hardware,” stated Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
Charles King of Pund-IT had this to say:
“You could say that Microsoft is a bit late to the game, in that the announcement comes well after its rivals… but the market for these devices is in such an early state that I doubt a few weeks or months will make a significant difference.”