Microsoft Thinks True Mixed Reality is Five Years Away

By Bob Raikes
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Although Microsoft is developing ‘Mixed Reality’ headsets with PC OEMs based on the Holographic platform that are expected to be here later this year, Microsoft XBox boss, Phil Spencer told Time in an interview that he thinks that really good mixed reality devices may be as many as five to ten years away. The Holographic platform uses cables and that is a real barrier, especially in family settings. In that time, Spencer thinks that headsets will be good enough that the wearer won’t feel as though they are wearing a helmet.

Spencer said that he is a big believer in the ‘metaverse’ concept, where real and virtual objects exist side by side. He said.

“When we talk about that 5 year future, I think that is the space that we have to land, where everything I interact with from creatures to people to the objects around me, the world blends between real and physical and virtual, and the characters and A.I. capability do the same.”

The company has been shipping its Mixed Reality Developer Kits since the beginning of March.

Analyst Comment

As Spencer said, consumers are not going to buy into the current $3,000 Hololens concept and many think that the field of view is much too limited (and solving that problem is a really tough optical problem and summarised well by our article VR and AR Head Mounted Displays – Sorry, but there is no Santa Claus).

In the interview, Spencer also talked about the interest in old games. Backwards compatibility is important in boosting demand as players still want to play older games. He drew the analogy with the movie industry, or music. Lots of people still love to watch old movies or listen to music from the ’50s or ’60s. In the same way, game players will still want to play classic games

This could be a factor in Nintendo’s recent decision to sell a new version of the SNES system that can connect via HDMI to newer displays. Game publishers may become even more like the big movie studios in managing their back catalogues. (BR)