The other day, Alex Kipman, a technical employee of the operating systems division at Microsoft, shared his thoughts on what users can expect from the mixed reality (MR, Mixed Reality) technologies in 2018, that is, in the near future. He noted that the time is very turbulent and innovative in this sector, and he named several main directions of development.
Trend 1: Mixed Reality and AI
Mixed reality and artificial intelligence (MR + AI) are key technological shifts that, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, will determine the future of computing electronics. Today, HoloLens in conjunction with the solutions of MR + AI is already helping customers to do the impossible before. The ability to combine real and digital worlds in a mixed reality allows you to create environments in which people, places, and things become independent of their physical location and can interact with digital counterparts. Artificial intelligence further improves these capabilities, giving developers a super ability to manage space and time.
In July last year, Microsoft announced that the next version of HoloLens will include an AI task processing unit integrated into a specialized holographic processing unit (HPU). This step will give computers the opportunity to really perceive the environment, and, as the company promises, this is only the beginning of the road. The computing power provided by cloud services is the catalyst that speeds up AI calculations, and it is in 2018 that mixed reality can finally materialize in the mass market. Even today, cloud-based AI calculations allow the device to better understand physical objects.
Trend 2: AR + VR
Initially, Microsoft was focused on the principle of mixed reality, which includes both AR- and VR-environments; so that the user can take advantage of both worlds. Microsoft leaves the choice to the producers and consumers, and itself seeks to develop a single platform that can combine the full range of possible applications. As a good example of the successful combination of AR and VR, Mr. Kipman led an MR demonstration shown on Build 2017 with partners from Cirque du Soleil. Technologies like HoloLens in the future will open new opportunities for joint, even remote, work in mixed reality.
According to Microsoft, it is difficult to overestimate the use of mixed reality for teamwork and the creation of various projects in the most realistic form. Sometimes it is impossible to interact with a staff member directly, but the task that a person is working on requires exactly direct participation, presence. Mixed reality will allow to carry out such work (for example, the same rehearsals of a speech) remotely.
Trend 3: Communication with the presence effect
Today’s digital environments are often too isolated and lonely. In the future, MR projects are designed to become more multi-user. According to Alex Kipman, a breakthrough application that will launch a mass introduction of mixed reality should be social, breaking down the barriers that isolate people from each other. The specialist is convinced that the vocation of MR is to unite people in new exciting ways, because at work and in personal life, communication is a fabric that ties society together.
As a person working with people around the world, Mr. Kipman believes that a presence on the spot is sometimes difficult to replace, especially in some cases where a more intimate interaction between the leader and the subordinate is required. But the mixed reality, in his opinion, will allow overcoming time and space, creating the effect of direct interaction and immersion at a distance – in the near future, Microsoft promises to realize such opportunities.
Alex Kipman also believes that mixed reality will change people’s communication in their personal lives. Being an immigrant from Brazil, he would like his 7-year-old daughter to interact with the whole family living at home on weekends. For example, playing board games with cousins with a sense of real social interaction, despite the distance of thousands of kilometers.
Microsoft promises that in the coming months will follow meaningful announcements from the team of mixed reality – the accomplishments in this area are just beginning.