A few days after Meta (formerly Facebook) showed its great intentions for the metaverse, Microsoft introduced Mesh, which is the company’s first big bet to reinforce its participation in the metaverse,
Mesh is a new mixed reality technology developed by Microsoft and can be used to bring people from different locations together in a single space and make them feel as if they were sitting in the same room.
In its introductory video, we can see something similar to the holographic technology we see in Marvel movies.
For all the details on the subject, check out this article.
Index of this article
How will Mesh work?
Mesh can be used to conduct a virtual team meeting, where several people can work without being present in the same place, in a projected way through virtual holograms.
The platform will offer the possibility for developers to create applications in Extended Reality (better known as XR), which is a combination of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality technologies.
Initially, Microsoft Mesh will create animated avatars of people in a mixed reality virtual environment. However, future plans are to teleport a complete virtual version of a person with gestures and facial expressions.
In practice, Microsoft will use Artificial Intelligence to hear voice and then animate the avatar and if you want a 3D experience, you can click on the option to raise your hand or animate an emoji around your avatar and your avatar will react as such.
Applications will be based on Azure cloud infrastructure. from Microsoft and will focus on collaborative meetings at a distance through 3D avatars.
Mesh was announced in March of this year, on Microsoft Ignite, and at the time, the platform was presented as the idea that Microsoft had in mind for the future and was not yet expected to be released.
“The feature combines the mixed-reality capabilities of Microsoft Mesh, which allows people in different physical locations to join collaborative and shared holographic experiences, with the productivity tools of Microsoft Teams, where people can join virtual meetings, send chats, collaborate on shared documents and more.”, the company states.
With the announcement of Mesh, Microsoft reinforces the idea that it has its eye on the competition for the metaverse, which is expected to come alive in the first half of 2022.
What devices will run Microsoft Mesh?
Mesh will initially be available on Hololens 2 devices, but Microsoft has opened up the platform so developers can create Mesh-enabled apps and experiences for other headsets, smartphones, PCs, and tablets.
The company has released the Microsoft Mesh for Hololens visualization app, which is enabled on the AltspaceVR platform and can be used to hold meetings in the preview version. However, plans for the future are to integrate Mesh into other products such as Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365.
Sometime in 2022, Mesh will offer a new ‘immersive experience’ option that will allow Microsoft Teams users to build a 3D avatar and use it in place of a standard webcam or select it as their avatar for AR interactions or VR
Although, the platform is focused on XR for a face-to-face experience, when used without an XR headset, the 3D avatar will be animated through vocal expressions.
Mesh will launch with “pre-built immersive spaces to support a variety of contexts, from meetings to social interactions,” says the company.
At some point, organizations will also be able to build custom immersive spaces for colleagues to interact with.
Competition in the metaverse
Without a doubt, the company’s biggest competitor is Meta (formerly Facebook), which announced last week that it was stepping up efforts to shift its business toward building its version of the metaverse, something that represented a complete overhaul of the company’s brand.
Meta recently launched its own immersive space, called Horizon Workrooms, the virtual collaboration platform that connects VR and video chat users in the same place, the latter of which includes support for Zoom and Facebook video chat.
In response, Microsoft works on Microsoft Teams and intends to use it as a foundation for platforms that serve the same purpose as Mesh
Its capabilities with cloud infrastructure, video conferencing and the Microsoft 365 product family help position Microsoft as a strong competitor for companies that are eyeing the metaverse.
What is the metaverse?
Metaverse is a term that comes from the 90s and was created by writer Neal Stephenson and can be defined as a virtual universe, which creates an immersive interaction experience, shared through the internet.
With the popularization of the term, many “virtual universes” such as Second Life and Roblox came to exist as Virtual Reality technologies were launched in the market.
But the concept has gained a lot of attention in recent days and the reason is the fact that big technology companies are turning their eyes to it.
CEO Satya Nadella said: “I cannot exaggerate how much this (the metaverse) is an advance. It’s no longer just video conferencing with colleagues, you can be with them in the same room. It’s not just playing with friends anymore, you can play with them.”
According to him, the metaverse is not only transforming the way we see the world but also how we all actively participate in it.
Currently, the companies that have been betting the most on the idea of the metaverse are Meta and Microsoft, and consequently, they will have an interesting dispute for prominence in the world of virtual realities.
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