Exploring Windows mixed reality

by AaronC

Windows Mixed Reality headset and hand controllers

For the uninitiated “Mixed Reality” might sound like just another industry buzzword, but it represents an important shift. Virtual reality is designed to take you out of the real world, augmented reality provides an overlay, but mixed reality is meant to interact with and enhance.

Microsoft is committed to bringing headsets to market that have an understanding of the world around them. The sensors built into the headsets detect the layout of the room around you and allow you to put on the headset with minimal setup. No external sensors are required to detect where you are in the world (and whether you are about to bump into a wall).

While we are still in the early days of mixed reality it is already poised to replace the monitor that sits on your desk, tablets and many common 3D art tools. As headset resolutions get higher and more detail is introduced into virtual worlds they are becoming viable workspaces – but it isn’t all a bed of virtual roses.

Mixed reality, like other platforms, suffers from several issues that prevents it from replacing my monitor. Bulkiness and input are the biggest, in my opinion. Since it isn’t possible to do everything in mixed reality, it still means putting on and taking off the headset on a regular basis – and that can get frustrating quickly. It’s also difficult switching between holding controllers and typing – especially considering my touch typing skills aren’t the greatest. And my biggest complaint is how easy it is to accidentally bump the Windows button on the controllers, taking me out of my current application and into the default home area.

With those few little issues aside I’m definitely sold on Windows Mixed reality, and hope they get significant adoption. Overall the bump in resolution plus the ease of setup makes headsets like the Samsung Odyssey a serious contender in the virtual reality market.