VR has finally gained the momentum it has been struggling for the past two decades – it has become the talk of industries everywhere. According to Phil Spencer, however, VR is only half the step – mixed reality is where things are headed to in the long term.
Phil expressed his opinion about VR gaming in an interview with AusGamers, where he also talked about the upcoming Project Scorpio among other things like bringing Mario to Xbox.
Of course, Microsoft has the best mixed-reality headset right now – the $3000 HoloLens – but it’s nowhere near ready for broad and demanding mass market adoption; the price is too high, and the experience not quite there yet.
In the interview, Phil also mentions that he wants to see untethered virtual experiences – something that Microsoft’s upcoming $300 VR headsets do not provide.
“A device that can go from fully opaque like we see in current VR to overlaying information in the real-world — I fundamentally believe that’s where we’re going. I’ll also add ‘untethered’ is where we’re going. Like, the fact we’re all going to walk around… I mean, you’ve played all of these right? With cords hanging off the back of your head? It’s cool, I have a Vive, I have an Oculus, I’ll get a PlayStation VR, but the setup is for some specific tech enthusiasts — it’s just not a normal thing to shield myself from the world with a cord hanging off the back of my head and play games. I think it has to evolve, and I love the evolution that is going to happen.”
The comments about building a headset that could go “opaque” and overlay information on top of the real world are interesting – that’s what the HoloLens does, but he seems to be talking about something bigger.
Of course, VR is still important – you don’t always want to be tethered to the real world, sometimes you just want to escape into a fantastical world of wonder; however, AR is important as well – not just because it keeps you in the reality, but because it can also provide for some interesting experiences.
A headset that could combine both is where things get complicated. A “device that can go from fully opaque” to “overlaying information in the real-world” is not only an attractive proposition but also one that could make these headsets the norm rather than the exception.
The HTC Vive has a camera on it, which is used to build the chaperone for the VR environment – a virtual wall, so the person in this virtual reality doesn’t forget that they still are bound by the physics of this reality.
Interestingly, the camera can be – and has been – used for other things, such as mixed-reality. The technology isn’t as far-fetched as some would imagine, and Microsoft’s upcoming $300 VR headsets might as well have cameras capable of blending the virtual and real worlds.
As Phil Spencer puts it, “Everything that’s happening and will happen over the upcoming years are all “great learning opportunities for the industry.” We just hope the technology becomes affordable for the masses sooner rather than later.