A lot of progress has been made over the past decade on the following interconnected technologies: virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Mixed reality comes mostly as a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality. The applications of mixed reality cover a broad spectrum of human activities, including, but not limited to, remote and hybrid working and learning. This article provides an overview of Microsoft Hololens 2 and Microsoft Mesh, which are two of Microsoft’s fundamental platforms for enabling mixed reality. The Azure Cloud also provides a handful of mixed reality services.
Microsoft Hololens 2
Microsoft HoloLens is the first fully self-contained holographic computer to run Windows 10. Now, with the introduction of HoloLens 2, every HoloLens device provides commercial ready management capabilities that are enhanced by the reliability, security, and scalability of cloud and AI services from Microsoft. Hololens 2 has an impressive hardware design and has been built on top of the lessons learnt from the early Hololens device. HoloLens is a mixed reality device that is powered by holograms and provides apps and solutions that enhance collaboration. Holograms and holographic computing play a key role in augmented reality applications.
Hololens 2 comes in the following feature options:
- HoloLens 2 (device only): HoloLens 2 offers the most comfortable and immersive mixed reality experience available—enhanced by the reliability, security, and scalability of cloud and AI services from Microsoft.
- HoloLens 2 with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist: Get started on day one with HoloLens 2 and the ultimate mixed reality communication app from Microsoft, available together. Help your whole company be more productive and innovate with more purpose. Experience mixed reality now with Dynamics 365 and solutions from industry partners.
- HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition: Designed, built, and tested to support clean room environments with standards ranging from ISO Class 6 through ISO Class 8, the HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition is UL Class I, Division 2 certified and is supported with a 2-year warranty and a rapid replacement program.
- Trimble XR10 with HoloLens 2: Purpose built for workers in dirty, loud, and safety-controlled environments, the Trimble XR10 with HoloLens 2 brings mixed reality right to your work site. More details on the Trimble product can be found at: https://fieldtech.trimble.com/en/products/mixed-reality/trimble-xr10-with-hololens-2.
- HoloLens 2 Development Edition: Start building for mixed reality with this offer that combines HoloLens 2 with free trials of Unity software and Azure credits for cloud services. Learn how to go beyond the basics and start developing for mixed reality.
A series of solutions are available to IT professionals and developers, as shown below.
|Dynamics 365 for HoloLens||Empower employees and optimize operations.|
|Dynamics 365 Remote Assist||Empower technicians to collaborate more efficiently by working together from different locations.|
|Dynamics 365 Guides||Improve training effective needs and learn how employees are performing.|
|Azure Cloud Services for Mixed Reality||Learn how to develop a solution using Azure Cloud Services.|
|Start developing for HoloLens 2||Build a mixed reality solution to fit your needs.|
You can start experimenting with Hololens 2 in greater depth by joining the Microsoft Hololense developer program at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens/developers. Also workth mentioning is the Mixed Reality Partner Program (MRPP). The Mixed Reality Partner Program (MRPP) is a Microsoft-sponsored, community-driven program for partners that design, build, deploy, and operate mixed reality solutions. MRPP partners have successfully helped customers in manufacturing, healthcare, retail, education, and many other industries to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives and improve business impact.
Microsoft Docs provides a handful of how-to guides for deploying Hololens 2 into your network and manage it via MDM and Intune. All Hololens guides are available at: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens/.
Microsoft Mesh enables people to connect with presence, share across space, and collaborate with one another, from anywhere in the world. By bringing Mesh-enabled mixed reality experiences to your organization, you can enhance virtual meetings, conduct virtual design sessions, help others remotely, and host immersive virtual meet-ups to boost productivity. Mesh provides a natural collaboration experience in mixed reality. People are represented as 3D avatars in a shared space. Proximity and spatial audio let people know where they are relative to one another. Users can visualize and annotate content together in a shared 3D space. A user can look at the person they’re talking to, and point to features on a shared 3D object.
There are a handful of real-life applications by using Mesh. Microsoft advertises the following as the main imminent applications to be run via Hololens2 and AltspaceVR. AltspaceVR is the premiere app for live virtual events. AltspaceVR offers a wide range of event-hosting features like unlimited capacity, stage-management, moderation-tools, host-panel, audience interaction tools, cross-platform support, world-building tools, environment templates, screen-share capabilities, and an SDK for building sharable apps.
- Virtual collaboration. Colleagues working time zones apart can collaborate as if they’re physically present in the same room. Mesh is integrated with Microsoft 365, so connections, calendars, content and workflows naturally transition to their Mixed Reality world. These shared experiences help deepen understanding, increase employee engagement and improve productivity.
- Spatially aware design reviews. Mesh enhances 3D design reviews by enabling users to join from anywhere using any device. Whether physically present or holoported, colleagues can see and annotate 3D models in real-time. All content persists between design sessions so teams can quickly start where they left off. This common understanding ignites ideas, sparks creativity, and forms powerful bonds.
- Help others remotely. When employees need help, there is nothing like having an expert right next to them to provide guidance and offer new perspectives. Mesh enables remote experts to be present wherever they are needed. They can overlay contextual data and help share insights quickly and effectively, resolving issues faster.
- Train and learn together. Training, especially on complex topics such as surgery, equipment maintenance, and traffic control, is hard to do without being in the same room with the instructor and looking at the same set of objects from multiple perspectives. With Mesh, employees can learn together from anywhere thanks to holoportation, holographic sharing, and visualization. Mesh helps improve the efficacy of virtual training while reducing travel and logistics costs.
- Host virtual meet-ups. Foster a deeper sense of connection and community, by hosting virtual meet-ups in Mesh-powered mixed reality experiences. Form powerful bonds with others by letting your personality shine through as technology fades away.
If you’re interested in building a Mesh-enabled mixed reality app, join the Mixed Reality Developer Program to get updates, and get notified when Mesh Public Preview begins. You can also use the Microsoft Mesh App on Hololens 2.