Microsoft Mesh: Will it change how we collaborate?

The mixed reality platform can be used on the Hololens 2, computers, VR headsets and smartphones.

Video Transcript

- The big announcement is around Microsoft Mesh, a new mixed reality platform that enables people to join and share the same experience wherever they are in the world. And it's not just for the Hololens. It can also be accessed via a VR headset, a computer, or even just your smartphone.

And as you can see, there's a few things that you can do while in the space such as customize your own avatar, you can also import and manipulate 3D objects, such as this hermit crab, which I will make tons bigger than it should be. The man behind the lens is Alex Kipman who I got to meet through the new platform. But in the end, it was easier just to speak to him over a video call.

ALEX KIPMAN: You know, ultimately for me, you know this ability of using mixed reality to displace both space and time is something I have a ton of passion around. I'm from Brazil. And you know, imagine what I wouldn't give to be able to have my daughter experience her cousins in Brazil right through mixed reality and benefit. That ability to be socially present without being able to be physically in the same location is something that I've been very excited about for a long time, and to be honest, I think is the killer experience for mixed reality.

- The promise of a truly collaborative platform is huge. But as always, it's all about the applications. As we all speculate on what the future of the office will be, consultancy firm Accenture has created a virtual space for their employees to connect, hang out, and interact. And whilst Mesh initially presents people as avatars, it will move towards what they call, Holoporation as Alex is demonstrating here, which is a full realization of yourself in the virtual space.

Until now, Hololens has always been geared towards workspaces. And it's interesting to see consumer focused uses are being explored. Lune Rouge, founded by Cirque Du Soleil's Laliberte, is starting to explore how the platform might enable people to remotely attend concerts, theatrical performances, or even family events. But it's the partnership with Niantic, the creators of Pokemon Go that may grab the headlines. This was of course, the way hundreds of millions of people were introduced to AR as a concept. So what better way to show off?

Now before we get carried away, this is just a proof of concept for Hololens. You're not going to be wearing one of these looking for Pikachu any time soon I'm afraid. But this is a glimpse into the future, and what is possible. And that is more than enough to excite most people, including me.

And the impact online was immediate. And what's notable here is not just seeing Pokemon in AR, but it's the idea of playing, socializing, and exploring the world with your friends. But the undoubted star of the show was filmmaker and undersea explorer, James Cameron, who has been using Mesh for his upcoming series, Ocean Explorers.

JAMES CAMERON: But so I think this is going to expand rapidly. I think that the opportunity for people to interact artistically, creatively, maybe create music, maybe create art, work together on film projects and so on, it's going to expand beyond the Zoom platform into actual spatial collaborative workspaces. I think where I see the value of this now that I can be certain of is global interaction with people. And they can emit little hearts if they like what you're saying, you know or whatever it is. It's fun. I think it is the future of social interaction and collaboration.

- So there are tons of possible applications for the platform. But despite being able to access Mesh on most devices, you'll have to shell out over 3,300 quid for a Hololens to get the truly immersive experience.

NONNY DE LA PENA: At that price point, it really is pie in the sky. And they'll have to bring the costs down. I think that this is not a new idea. Right, these are not new ideas that Microsoft is proposing. None of this was some extraordinary brand new concept. But the difference is it's Microsoft. They have the people, the money, the brainpower, the infrastructure to actually act on what they're proposing.

- The idea of teams virtually collaborating especially strikes a chord as we remain separated during the pandemic. Don't expect to be hanging out with your co-workers as a hologram though just as yet. But immersive platforms like this may change how we interact in the future.