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Microsoft Mixed Reality Push Boosted By Samsung Odyssey

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Microsoft targets consumer market with its mixed reality vision, but is the demand really there?

Samsung has announced what it is calling the “ultimate Windows mixed reality (MR) experience” with its new HMD Odyssey headset.

The Samsung HMD Odyssey handset aims to provide a premium virtual reality experience for Windows users, “with superior picture quality and the highest resolution display taking consumers to entirely new virtual limits.”

It comes as Microsoft shared its mixed reality vision, opening its MR platform to SteamVR developers.

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Mixed Reality

Microsoft has a bit of history in the mixed reality sphere, after it introduced the Microsoft HoloLens in early 2015, which was the world’s first fully self-contained holographic computer.

And Redmond this week essentially held a sales pitch in San Francisco for its MR push, in which it touted the new Samsung HMD Odyssey headset, which joins other Windows Mixed Reality headsets, all of which are now available on pre-order ahead of the Christmas holiday period.

Microsoft believes it is standing at the “threshold of a next revolution in computing,” that will allow people to immerse themselves in virtual worlds.

To this end it has opened its MR platform to SteamVR, so developers will have access to the Windows Mixed Reality SteamVR preview so they can try out their experiences.

Another development has seen the AltspaceVR team join Microsoft.

“With Windows, we are delivering the only OS designed for the broadest range of inputs from traditional inputs like keyboards and mice, touch and ink, gamepads and our new industry defining motion controllers to now more natural human inputs such as gaze, voice, and gestures,” blogged Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow at Microsoft.

He explained that from 17 October, Windows Mixed Reality fans will be able to enjoy the more than 20,000 apps in the Microsoft Store.

“Mixed reality on Windows PCs all begins with the upcoming release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update,” said Kipman. “It’s the first spatial operating system – complete with a library of content that will inspire you, and a portfolio of the best, easiest to use and most affordable headsets paired with the most powerful motion controllers.”

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Samsung Headset

As part of Redmond’s MR push, electronics giant announced its Samsung HMD Odyssey, which it claims to be the most immersive Windows Mixed Reality headset in the market..

The ‘easy start’ headset comes with dual 3.5-inch AMOLED displays, in order to deliver vibrant colours, and deeper blacks, as well as crisper, more lifelike images. There is a 110-degree field of view and built-in premium AKG headphones, in order to immerse users in the experience with 360 degree spatial sound.

Other features include a HDMI2.0 and USB 3.0 Interface Bound Cable, 6 Axis accelerometer; 6 axis gyrometer, compass; Proximity Sensor and IPD Sensor.

The headset measures 202mm(W) x 131.5mm(D) x 111mm(H) and weighs in at 645 grams. It is powered by two AA Batteries x 2ea.

There is a clickable touchpad and menu button, as well as a Windows/Controller power button, Trigger, Thumbstick, and Indicator light.

“The Samsung HMD Odyssey is a high performing headset designed to provide the most immersive Windows Mixed Reality experience. ” said YG Choi, Senior VP of PC Business Team at Samsung. “With the widest field of view, built-in spatial sound and easy setup, the Samsung HMD Odyssey transports consumers to incredible virtual reality experiences.”

Microsoft meanwhile has already said that the second generation of its HoloLens ‘mixed reality’ headset will incorporate a chip deigned to power artificial intelligence (AI) functions in the wearable device.

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