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What is Microsoft Mesh? Holograms may be the future of remote collaboration

Microsoft has lifted the virtual lid on Mesh, which looks to be the future of holographic collaboration in remote settings. But what is Microsoft Mesh? 

What is Microsoft Mesh?

The tool, revealed at Microsoft’s Ignite Digital Conference on Tuesday, is a new mixed-reality platform, which will eventually enable users to enjoy shared holographic experiences.

The idea, Microsoft says is to enable people in different physical locations to collaborate in real time. Kind of like a futuristic Teams meeting. Microsoft says that Mesh makes it seem like all participants are in the same room working on the same project. It’s all made possible by the HoloLens mixed reality headset, but Microsoft is planning to be inclusive of other headsets too.

A video shown by Microsoft during the announcement showed what appeared to be city planners and air traffic controllers working together to solve problems. Some were represented by digital avatars while others appeared to be full-on holograms formed by rays of light.

 

In the video demonstration, it looks a lot like the Holograms we see depicted at the Jedi council during the Star Wars prequels. For the time being, Microsoft says the representations will be powered by avatars, before the “lifelike, photorealistic” holograms are ready for the major leagues.

“This has been the dream for mixed reality, the idea from the very beginning,” said Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman, who invented the HoloLens platform. “You can actually feel like you’re in the same place with someone sharing content or you can teleport from different mixed reality devices and be present with people even when you’re not physically together.”

Microsoft says it’ll be offering a host of Mesh tools to developers in the months to come, which will include a preview of the Microsoft Mesh app for HoloLens. However, it sounds like the activities depicted by Microsoft during the presentation are quite a while away yet.

In a blog post, the company writes: “With Microsoft Mesh-enabled applications, designers or engineers who work with 3D physical models — anything from bicycles to high-end furniture to jet engines to new sports stadiums — could appear as themselves in a shared virtual space to collaborate and iterate on holographic models, regardless of their physical location.”

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