The new platform is intended to enable rival virtual-reality headsets to interact with Microsoft’s HoloLens technology, as well as with each other.
Microsoft has unveiled a new platform based on its Windows 10 software catering to virtual and augmented reality technology developed by other companies.
Windows Holographic will enable rival headsets, such as HTC’s Vive virtual-reality device, to interact with Microsoft’s own HoloLens, as well as each other, Executive Vice President Terry Myerson said at the Computex trade show in Taipei on Wednesday. Partners will be encouraged to build personal computers, displays and accessories for the platform to develop experiences mixing the reality technologies.
Microsoft has been investing in HoloLens to build practical applications for its augmented reality headset. Last year it teamed with Volvo Car Group to bring the technology to automotive showrooms. The company has started shipping $3,000 developer kits to customers so they can then develop applications for the headset.
“We began shipping Microsoft HoloLens in March and customers across industries are embracing the potential of mixed reality already,” Myerson said in a blog post. “I can’t wait to see what our partners do with Windows Holographic.”
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Attracting new customers will be critical to securing broad adoption for HoloLens. Among those partnering with Microsoft on Windows Holographic are Intel, Qualcomm, HTC, Acer and Lenovo Group, it said.
Opening up the platform gives partners the chance to improve on rival products and monetize their content, said Nick Parker, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Original Equipment Manufacturer division.
“We bring a store,” he said. “What we’ll see is partners start to take their capabilities, how they can bring it together with other partners to create a unique device that may be independent.”
Microsoft’s Windows 10 software is already running on more than 300 million active devices.
The company said more than 80 million virtual-reality devices are expected by 2020.
“However, many of today’s devices and experiences do not work with each other, provide different user interfaces, interaction models, input methods, peripherals and content,” Myerson said. “And most virtual-reality experiences can’t mix real people, objects and environments into the virtual world, making creation and collaboration difficult.”
Microsoft plans to unveil further details of the platform at the WinHEC developers’ conference in the fall, Myerson said in his blog post.