This week at the Intel Developer Forum, Microsoft provided a more detailed roadmap to open the Windows Holographic Platform to various “mixed reality” Windows 10 devices starting next year.
Microsoft said that that Windows Holographic will be coming to mainstream Windows 10 PCs in early 2017.
According to Windows head Terry Myerson, “Intel and Microsoft are collaborating on a specification for mixed reality ready PCs and head mounted displays (HMDs.”
“The Windows Holographic shell enables an entirely new experience for multi-tasking in mixed reality, blending 2D and 3D apps at the same time, while supporting a broad range of 6 degrees of freedom devices,” added Myerson.
Further he said, that alongwith Intel and others partners they aim to publicly release v1 of the spec in Shenzhen in December at the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) conference.
Intel’s own Project Alloy virtual reality headset, meanwhile, is due to work with the Shell and will be released in December of 2016 at Microsoft’s WinHec event in China.
Similar to Microsoft’s own Hololens (known as the Windows Holographic platform), Project Alloy uses completely wireless technology, and is an all-in-one device with cameras, sensors, and input controls built in.
Project Alloy also relies on hand-tracking as input, and utilizes a 1080p camera and infrared cameras and lasers.
For those new, Windows Holographic shell enables an entirely new experience for multi-tasking in mixed reality.
“Mixed reality blend 2D and 3D apps simultaneously, while supporting a broad range of 6 degrees of freedom devices. Mixed reality encompasses a spectrum of experiences, from virtual reality (VR) enhanced with holograms, to holographic computing devices enhanced with “real” life images.”
“Intel is collaborating with Microsoft to optimize Windows-based content and experiences on Intel-based VR devices such as Alloy,” according to the release. “Intel will open the Alloy hardware and provide open APIs for the ecosystem, allowing developers and partners to create their own branded products from the Alloy design, in 2017,” the release adds.
The new feature will allow users to enjoy the Windows Holographic shell on third-party peripherals, such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive as well.
Microsoft is pitching Windows Holographic as a way to get different AR/VR/mixed reality devices to be able to communicate cross-platform as the market matures.
Back in June, Microsoft at the Computex opened up Windows Holographic to all devices.
Presumably, the 2017 update to Windows 10 that Microsoft is referring to is Redstone 2, which will enable mainstream PCs to run the Windows Holographic shell and associated mixed reality and universal Windows applications, the official noted.
Microsoft also posted a video of a real Windows 10 holographic experience, running on an inexpensive and tiny Intel NUC at 90 frames per second:
Update 08/28: A slide revealing the HPU in all of its glory, as being a 28nm co-processor, featuring 24 cores and 1 GB of low-power DDR3 RAM.
Microsoft recently at the Hot Chips conference shared these details, “those 24 cores are custom-designed Tensilica digital signal processors (DSPs), optimized to process continuous signals from the HoloLens sensors,” the compant explains. “It’s these DSPs that make all the magic happen, performing a reported one trillion calculations per second,” added Microsoft. “All of that data is then packaged and shipped over to the Intel Cherry Trail CPU for final processing.”
The entire HPU draws less than 10W of power, “while the specially-designed hardware offers up to 200x improvements in processing over a general-purpose CPU.”
It’s this that allows the HoloLens to function as the world’s first “fully untethered” holographic unit, but it’s also “what makes the device a very expensive proposition, with a current price tag of $3000,” reports microsoft via The Register.
More details about the system components were also released at the event:
64 GB eMMC SSD
2GB LPDDR3 RAM
Cherry Trail SoC
Windows 10 OS