Monday, December 04, 2017

Windows 10: Mixed Reality headsets (Overview to Get Started)

Have you been hearing all the hype about the Windows Mixed Reality headset?  This is not a review of a single headset, but an overview the technology and what you need to know to get started.

Introduction to Microsoft Mixed Reality Technology

With the release of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. A new hardware market segment for Windows is now available.

It is called the Windows Mixed Reality headsets. These headsets integrate with Windows 10 and allow the user to experience virtual worlds in new ways that is not available using a traditional keyboard, mouse and monitor.

Mixed Reality Headset Hardware Overview

Below is an example of what the Mixed Reality hardware for Windows currently looks like.  It is composed of two parts, the headset and the motion controllers.  The headset is obvious what you are supposed to do with it, and the motion controller are for interacting with objects within the virtual world.

Prices for this hardware start at $299, and go up from there.  It is going to require a computer that can run Windows 10 with the Fall Creators update, and has HDMI and USB 3.0 port.  Microsoft designed their mixed reality technology to only need very basic specifications for the user to to get started.

My personal opinion is that the faster the computer and more system resources (i.e. CPU, RAM, storage, network) the better the virtual world experience will be.

Below are some of the generic specification and considerations for selecting a mixed reality headsets (these specs will all vary between manufactures and available models):
  • Two high-resolution LCDs displays builtin to the headset.
    • Resolutions of these displays will vary depending on the manufacture.
  • Front-hinged display for lifting the viewer up out of your way
  • Built-in 3.5mm jack for audio and microphone support  
    • Consideration: Depending on the headset you buy will determine if it comes with a way of outputting and inputting audio. Otherwise you will need to purchase your headphone with a microphone.
  • A cable(s) for HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 for video and data.
    • Consideration: Make sure the cable is going to have adequate length to allow you to have enough freedom to movement.
To see all the latest devices, check out: Microsoft Store: Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Mixed Reality Headset

Motion Controllers

How to Setup the Hardware

To get an idea of what the what the hardware setup requires, check out the following video:

Quick Overview of the Windows Mixed Reality Experience

Since this is such a new technology, getting an idea of what you can do with it after buy it might be your first question. Since most people do not have point of reference on what to expect when it comes to buying this type of hardware.

The video below demonstrates what the average person can do with the technology (without all the marketing hype).  I think the guy demoing the hardware does a good job of  providing a quick overview of what he did with the technology.

Competition (in conclusion)
There are several players in this market; and Microsoft is just one platform among several competitors.  Ultimately, only market execution by the company, great apps created by its developers, and how well customers will buy the technology and content will determine who succeeds and who will lose.

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