|A component of Microsoft Windows|
Simulated image of Windows Mixed Reality on Microsoft HoloLens
|Included with||Windows 10|
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Windows Mixed Reality (formerly Windows Holographic) is a mixed reality platform introduced as part of the Windows 10 operating system, which provides holographic and mixed reality experiences with compatible head-mounted displays.
Its flagship device, Microsoft HoloLens, was announced at the "Windows 10: The Next Chapter" press event on January 21, 2015 It provides a mixed reality experience where a live presentation of physical real-world elements is incorporated with that of virtual elements (referred to as "holograms" by Microsoft[a]) such that they are perceived to exist together in a shared environment. A variant of Windows for augmented reality computers (which augment a real-world physical environment with virtual elements) Windows Mixed Reality features an augmented-reality operating environment in which any Universal Windows Platform app can run.[b]
The platform is also used for virtual reality headsets designed for use on the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which are built to specifications implemented as part of Windows Mixed Reality, but lack support for holographic experiences.
The premier device for Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft HoloLens is a smart-glasses headset that is a cordless, self-contained Windows 10 computer. It uses various sensors, a high-definition stereoscopic 3D optical head-mounted display, and spatial sound to allow for augmented reality applications, with a natural user interface that the user interacts with through gaze, voice, and hand gestures. Codenamed "Project Baraboo," HoloLens had been in development for five years before its announcement in 2015, but was conceived earlier as the original pitch made in late 2007 for what would become the Kinect technology platform.
Microsoft has targeted HoloLens for release "in the Windows 10 timeframe," with the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition to begin shipping March 30, 2016, available by application to developers in the United States and Canada for a list price of US$3000. Although the Development Edition is considered to be consumer-ready hardware, as of February 2016 Microsoft has not set a time frame for consumer availability of HoloLens, with HoloLens chief inventor Alex Kipman stating that HoloLens will have a consumer release only when the market is ready for it. Companies such as Samsung Electronics and Asus had expressed interest in working with Microsoft to produce their own mixed-reality products based on HoloLens. Intel made a direct competitor called Project Alloy with its system called "Merged Reality"; however, it has been cancelled as of September 22, 2017.
In October 2016 during a hardware event, Microsoft announced that multiple OEMs would release virtual reality headsets for the Windows Holographic platform, based on Microsoft reference designs enabling room-scale virtual reality without external sensors or components. In January 2017, prototypes were presented at Consumer Electronics Show for release later in the year,  and Microsoft later announced that it planned to release development kits for such headsets during the Game Developers Conference. These devices would be supported by the Windows 10 "Creators Update". At the Game Developers Conference in 2017, Microsoft stated that it intended to support Windows Mixed Reality headsets on Xbox One in 2018, specifically noting the capabilities of the then-upcoming Xbox One X hardware revision, but the company later stated that it was initially focusing on PC platforms first, and that it wanted to focus on wireless VR solutions for consoles.
In October 2017, Microsoft officially launched Windows Mixed Reality and a lineup of third-party headsets for use with the Windows 10 "Fall Creators Update" (including a launch lineup of headsets from Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, and future products from Asus and Samsung), officially referred to as Windows Mixed Reality immersive headsets. Unlike HoloLens, these devices are only compatible with virtual reality software, but the underlying ecosystem is referred to as Windows Mixed Reality regardless of experience. All Immersive headsets feature integrated motion tracking, and contain cameras that can be used to track handheld motion controller accessories, which may be bundled or optional accessories.
Immersive headsets are currently compatible with mixed reality software obtained from Microsoft Store, and software using Steam's virtual reality platform (as used by the HTC Vive). Microsoft classifies its minimum and recommended system requirements for Windows Mixed Reality as "Windows Mixed Reality PCs" (60 fps) and "Windows Mixed Reality Ultra PCs" (90 fps). The minimum requirements specify an Intel Core i5-7200U or better for laptops, 8 GB of RAM, Intel HD Graphics 620 or better with DirectX 12 support, USB 3.0, HDMI or DisplayPort connections, and Bluetooth 4.0 support for controllers; The Verge noted that users "won't need a high-end gaming PC" to meet these recommendations.
The Microsoft HoloLens is not what I think of when I hear the word “hologram.” What Microsoft calls holograms, most of us have been calling augmented reality for years—overlaying digital images over our view of the real world.
While these things are quite different from a technical point of view, from a user’s point of view, they have a large number of things in common. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a short, handy term that covers them all, has a well-matching connotation in the minds of the “person on the street,” and distinguishes these things from other things that might be similar technically, but have a very different user experience?
The easiest way to think about it [gaze-based targeting for HoloLens] is as having a raycast from the device and which you can determine what object (real world as represented in the spatial mapping mesh or holographic) that ray intercepts with.
The pair of Microsoft reps in the IPD room also explained to us the three ways we were going to interact with HoloLens: "gaze," wherein you move a cursor by looking around; "gesture," where you air tap to select an item; and "voice," which is...obvious. "We call it 'GGV'," said one of the reps.
Each lens has three layers of glass—in blue, green, and red—full of microthin corrugated grooves that diffract light. [...] A “light engine” above the lenses projects light into the glasses, where it hits the grating and then volleys between the layers of glass millions of times.
We will work to get devices out as quickly as possible. As soon as additional devices are available, more accepted applicants will be invited to purchase.
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