In our initial experience, Dell Visor will be a tough Windows Mixed Reality experience. It’s inexpensive and offers 90Hz playback that rivals the Oculus Rift experience, but has less powerful PC hardware requirements.
- What is mixed reality?
- Environmental input and perception
- What are Windows Mixed Reality Headsets?
- What is Windows Mixed Reality?
- Customize your mixed reality home
- Navigate in mixed reality
- How does Windows Mixed Reality work?
- What are the Windows Mixed Reality headset tech specs?
- You Can Buy a Headset Today, But the Price Doesn’t Make Sense
What is mixed reality?
Mixed reality is the next wave of computing after mainframes, PCs and smartphones. Mixed reality is becoming mainstream for consumers and businesses. It frees us from the screen experience by offering instinctive interaction with data in our living space and with friends. Online explorers of hundreds of millions of people around the world have experienced mixed reality on their mobile devices. Mobile AR offers the most popular mixed reality solutions on social media today. People may not even realize that the AR filters they use on Instagram are mixed reality experiences.
Mixed Reality is a combination of the physical and digital worlds, unlocking the natural and intuitive 3D interactions of human, computer and the environment. This new reality is based on advances in computer vision, graphic computing, display technologies, input systems, and cloud computing. The term “mixed reality” was introduced in 1994 in an article by Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino, “A Taxonomy of mixed reality Visual Displays.” In their paper, they explored the concept of the virtual continuum and the taxonomy of visual displays. The use of mixed reality has since expanded beyond displays to include:
- Understanding the environment: spatial mapping and anchors.
- Human Understanding: Hand Tracing, Eye Tracing, and Speech Input.
- Surround sound.
- Locations and positioning in both physical and virtual space.
- Collaborate on 3D assets in mixed reality spaces.
Image: Mixed reality is the result of connecting the physical world with the digital world.
Environmental input and perception
In recent decades, the relationship between humans and computers has continued to evolve through data entry methods. A new discipline has emerged known as human-computer interaction or “HCI”. Human input can now include keyboards, mice, touch, inking, voice, and Kinect skeleton tracking.
Advances in sensors and processing power are creating a new perception of the environment by the computer based on advanced input methods. Therefore, the names of the APIs in Windows that reveal information about the environment are called Perception APIs. Environmental data can record:
- a person’s body position in the physical world (head tracking)
- objects, surfaces and boundaries (spatial mapping and scene understanding)
- ambient lighting and sound
- object recognition
- physical locations
Image: Interactions between computers, people, and environments.
The combination of three essentials prepares the ground for creating a true mixed reality experience:
- Cloud-powered computing
- Advanced input methods
- Perception of the environment
As we move through the physical world, our movements are mapped in digital reality. Physical boundaries affect mixed reality experiences such as games or task-based guidance at a manufacturing facility in a digital world. Thanks to environmental influences and environmental perceptions, experiences begin to blend between physical and digital reality.
Announced in a blog post in August 2017, Microsoft gave details of a number of developers it is working with, including Hulu, Sony Pictures, Sky VR, and also revealed that 343 Industries is working on mixed reality compatibility for Halo games.
What are Windows Mixed Reality Headsets?
If you’re familiar with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), Windows Mixed Reality is basically a fusion.
The fundamental difference between mixed reality and virtual reality is that it is designed to make you feel part of the action.
Mixed Reality goggles look similar to VR goggles. You get a headset with a screen right in front of your eyes and additional technology to track your movements and replicate them in a virtual world.
However, mixed reality can put real world objects into a virtual world or virtual objects in the real world.
The front cameras take the necessary photos of what’s in front of you and incorporate it into what you see inside the headset.
What is Windows Mixed Reality?
Windows Mixed Reality or WMR is a version of Microsoft’s virtual and augmented reality. It is a combination of real and virtual worlds into one via a headset.
It also eliminates the need for external tracking as Mixed Reality headsets rely on built-in sensors to determine movement and position. This makes the VR and AR experiences more versatile and portable, as there is no need to position sensors in a dedicated room.
It also means you can simply connect the headset to your laptop and have the experience anywhere.
Again, that’s what Microsoft put it out there. This first-generation Mixed Reality headset doesn’t have any augmented reality features at all. So you’ll be doing it all in your “virtual home” unless you buy HoloLens or wait for more powerful Mixed Reality headsets to be released in the future.
Customize your mixed reality home
The first thing you’ll see when you start Windows Mixed Reality and put on the headset is your Mixed Reality home, a base for exploring specific apps or experiences. Here you can customize each room to your liking. Open the Start menu to pin your favorite apps to the walls and go to Start> Holograms to add furniture, people, and other holograms to your space.
Navigate in mixed reality
There are several ways to navigate mixed reality with motion controllers. To teleport, point the controller where you want to go, press forward on either stick, and release it to land instantly. Push the stick left or right to rotate, push back down to retract. To walk continuously, press any bar straight down and move it in the direction you want to go.
HP, like Acer, quickly released the Mixed Reality headset. It basically offers the same hardware as Acer, with the only difference mentioned in the tech specs being the double padded headband all day “- not that you would wear it all day as you would probably do the injury yourself.
How does Windows Mixed Reality work?
One of the basic principles of Microsoft’s system is that it is designed to run on Windows 10. It is part of Windows 10 and is available to a wide range of Windows 10 users.
Microsoft explained that Mixed Reality is designed to break the limitations of Mobile Virtual Reality where you are static or tracked VR where your movements are monitored by cameras but limited by the reach of your play area on the HTC Vive, PS VR or Oculus Rift.
In many ways, Microsoft’s “insider tracking” is the point that is different keeping track of your device’s traffic. It’s the ability to deliver six degrees of tracking from a headset in Windows 10 that really dictates how Microsoft Mixed Reality works.
Microsoft calls it “world scale”, a counterpoint to HTC’s “peace scale” for the HTC Vive.
Microsoft claims that HoloLens is its first mixed reality headset, and while it has laid the foundations in many ways – it’s self-contained, tracks and supports software as well – the HoloLens experience is closer to traditional augmented reality than virtual reality as you look through the viewfinder at the real world.
none of the Microsoft Mixed Reality systems have followed this trail yet, instead they all offer a display like other VR headsets (or HMD head-end displays). The first devices are also connected via HDMI and USB, just like existing VR systems. However, they have this “insider tracking” which makes them a different proposition than what is already on the market.
What these headsets can do is use the front-mounted cameras to recognize a room or objects in the room and add them to the virtual scene viewed through the kit, thus creating a MR world.
This also applies to controllers. Microsoft announced Mixed Reality controllers that can also be tracked through the headset, which again means there’s no need for other sensors.
What are the Windows Mixed Reality headset tech specs?
There are several different Mixed Reality headsets available at the moment, the technical specifications are more or less the same and the differences in design make them stand out.
Of course, the headset is only part of the puzzle, as it needs to be driven and fed with information. Microsoft has made minimum specs recommendations for Mixed Reality, which re-label it as a mass-market device rather than something that will be limited to those with a hardcore gaming machine:
- Intel Core i5 dual-core processor with hyperthreading support
- Graphics processor compatible with Intel HD Graphics 620 or DX12
- 8 GB of RAM
- HDMI 1.4, 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.3
- USB 3.0
- 100 GB SSD
- Bluetooth 4.0
Based on these specs, you’ll be able to use Microsoft Mixed Reality with lots of regular laptops and older PCs, unlike existing systems like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift which have much more demanding tech specs.
According to Microsoft, Windows 11 is being rolled out twice as fast as Windows 10. In addition, the offer of upgrades to Windows 11 is entering its final phase of availability, which Microsoft did not expect until mid-2022.