News: New Windows Holographic Virtual Reality Headsets Being Released to Developers in March

New Windows Holographic Virtual Reality Headsets Being Released to Developers in March

With the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Fransisco just a few weeks away, Microsoft Senior Program Manager Vlad Kolesnikov has announced via Channel9 (Microsoft's developer news outlet) that not only will new low-cost virtual reality headsets be coming in March to developers, but that they will be at GDC, too.

Microsoft first announced this series of third-party, low-cost VR headsets back in October 2016 during a Windows 10 keynote, which will run Windows Holographic. Later, they expanded that announcement at WinHEC 2016 Shenzen to include a list of OEM partners—Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and 3Glasses. While these will very much be VR headsets, especially since they will be tethered, they do have a bit of mixed reality tech built in with inside-out tracking.

These head-mounted-displays are going to be considerably less expensive (around $300 to $400) than the current VR and MR hardware out at the moment, and require far less computer power to run. That said, they will include inside-out tracking which made the HoloLens stand on its own in the current category of similar devices. This type of tracking is based on the collection of sensors built into the device. As a result, external sensors are not needed to keep track of your position.

The following lists the base requirements:

  • Intel Mobile Core i5 (e.g., 7,200U) dual-core with Hyper-threading equivalent
  • Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2) equivalent or greater DX12 API Capable GPU
  • 8 GB+ dual channel RAM required for integrated graphics
  • HDMI 1.4 with 2,880x1,440 @ 60 Hz
  • HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.3+ with 2,880x1,440 @ 90 Hz
  • 100 GB+ SSD (preferred) or HDD
  • USB 3.0 Type-A or USB 3.1 Type-C port with DisplayPort alternate mode
  • Bluetooth 4.0 for accessories

We did finally get to see what are assumed to be non-working prototypes of the headsets at CES 2017 two weeks ago. Microsoft has not put out any information currently that points to which manufacturer will be supplying the developers kits that will be coming out in March.

GDC is the largest yearly event in the US for game developers. In 2016, GDC added the Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC) to run alongside the GDC event. This specialized side event is tailored to augmented, mixed, and virtual reality developers. I already wanted to go to GDC/VRDC this year pretty badly, and now I really need to go.

What do you think of Microsoft's move toward these new cheaper Windows Holographic devices? Does their being tethered turn you off?

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Cover image by Microsoft/YouTube

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