Microsoft has announced Microsoft Mesh, a connective fabric for mixed reality collaboration. Microsoft Mesh leverages Azure to allow people in different physical locations using different types of devices to join and collaborate in a shared holographic space. Microsoft Mesh is designed to be device and operating system agnostic. And yes, while AltspaceVR is one of the first applications to support Mesh, there will be more cross-platform Microsoft productivity applications and 3rd party applications soon with Mesh in Preview.
Microsoft is one of the biggest supporters of the OpenXR standard, which means that the company wants to help the industry standardize around a certain level of agreed-upon ways of handling common XR functions and APIs and critical inputs like hand tracking and eye-tracking. Adopting OpenXR as Microsoft has helped solve the XR fragmentation problem and benefit Microsoft’s desire to support as many XR devices simultaneously.
In the latest update of SteamVR, version 1.16, full support for OpenXR 1.0 is included. SteamVR’s support for OpenXR 1.0 is a huge step forward towards industry adoption of the standard. SteamVR is the leading platform for PC VR thanks to its wide ranging support for every major PC-compatible headset. Full support for OpenXR 1.0 will make it easier for developers to create applications that work seamlessly across a variety of headsets.
The OpenXR standard is now poised to become the foundation for the future of spatial multi-apps. Beyond creating a more unified way of connecting headsets and runtimes together, extensions are being added to facilitate these overlays and multi-app capabilities. As more of tools exist and seamlessly run alongside each other, new opportunities arise for developers to create experiences that leverage them.
In this new multi-app ecosystem companies like Dopl Technologies can focus on developing the applications that enable their remote robotic surgery use-case. Instead of having to build out everything themselves, they are able to rely on other applications like Pluto to provide the communication layer. Separating each of these functions gives developers the ability to focus on their specific use-case, instead of having to re-implement the wheel every time they build a new app.
The Khronos Group sessions from SIGGRAPH Asia are now available. Watch to hear:
- Khronos President, Neil Trevett, give an Open Standards Update
- glTF’s Ed Mackey shows off next-generation PBR materials for glTF
- Nathaniel Hunter from DreamView discusses 3D Commerce’s Asset Creation Guidelines
- OpenXR Chair, Brent Insko, gives us an informative OpenXR update
- HTC’s, Tony Lin, demonstrates the Vive Cosmos OpenXR developer preview
- WebGL Chair, Ken Russell gives an in-depth update on WebGL
- Vulkan Chair, Tom Olson, updates us on Vulkan’s latest deliverables and future directions
- Followed by Neil Trevett who gives us the latest from the ANARI Working Group’s work on an analytical rendering API for the scientific community
Come and hear the latest from The Khronos Group!
The flight sim community has been a very active and insightful partner in shaping how the Microsoft approached VR, and continues to be a critical partner in Microsoft’s continued development in making further improvements and adding new features to the simulation. Adding VR to Microsoft Flight Simulator was a direct result of community feedback.
Microsoft’s goal was to make this update accessible to as many VR players as possible. To achieve this goal, they worked to make this free update compatible across a wide range of supported devices, including most Windows Mixed Reality headsets (including the HP Reverb G2), Oculus, Valve, and HTC headsets using OpenXR. To access VR, make sure you have downloaded the latest update for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Unity’s new OpenXR plug-in enables a broad range of AR/VR devices. It is available as a Preview package for Unity 2020.2. Unity encourages developers to share their feedback.
For the past two years, Holochip has been working on light field technology for the US Navy’s Aegis program. The program calls for a table top light field display that can accommodate horizontal and vertical real-time parallax. In October 2020, the team working on OpenXR™ at Holochip released an open source Vulkan® example projectand started work with light field display technology using the OpenXR API. As a result of both efforts, Holochip has discovered a method of light field real-time rendering that is built upon the Khronos Group’s Vulkan Ray Tracing extensions.
“Most VR games are made with the Unity and Unreal game engines. Unreal added support for OpenXR this year, and Unity plans to do the same by next year. Earlier this week, Facebook added a latency-reducing option called Phase Sync to the Unity & Unreal integrations. That same feature won’t be available to other engines via the Oculus SDK.”
The Khronos Group is a consortium of over 150 hardware and software companies who help define standards for various compute, graphics, and media APIs (e.g. if you’ve worked with computer graphics, then you’ve probably already come across one of their more familiar specifications), but the work of the Khronos Group goes well beyond graphics to include OpenXR, OpenCL, and several other active standards.
Creating open standards and specifications (i.e., cross-platform APIs) requires a breadth of knowledge to ensure they provide a rich set of functionality while allowing for future innovations. Thus, the importance of having a consortium with such a large number of members cannot be understated.
OpenXR development has been advancing quickly and is becoming the de-facto API for XR. Since the 1.0 version was released last year, there are now multiple conformant implementations from Microsoft and Oculus. Minecraft, Blender, Chromium, and Firefox Reality have also all embraced OpenXR.
Last week, the OpenXR Working Group held a webinar where Brent Insko, OpenXR Working Group Chair and lead XR architect at Intel, was joined by Working Group members Brad Grantham, LunarG; Jakob Bornecrantz, Collabora; Robert Blenkinsopp, Ultraleap; Sam Robinson, Holochip; Sam Morales, Holochip; and Steve Winston, Holochip, to discuss new conformant implementations, experimental overlays and hand tracking extensions, and more.
In case you missed any of the Khronos Groups Webinar series, you can now watch them online:
Be sure to check out our upcoming events page for more coverage of Khronos Group standards!
What an amazing ride! Earlier this year, Microsoft and Oculus started shipping conformant OpenXR runtimes to all customers, with SteamVR previewing OpenXR support soon after. Since then, we’ve seen wide adoption of OpenXR across the industry: from the new RenderDragon engine in Minecraft to the WebXR implementation in Edge and Chrome – from Babylon Native to Blender 2.83. With OpenXR, you can build engines and apps that target HoloLens 2 with the same API that you use to target PC VR headsets, including Windows Mixed Reality headsets, Oculus Rift headsets and (currently in developer preview) SteamVR headsets. OpenXR lets engines write code once that’s then portable across hardware platforms from a wide range of VR and AR vendors. Learn more about Microsoft and OpenXR.
Khronos member Unity has long been a public supporter of OpenXR, but the company has yet to deploy support for the standard. As a key figure in OpenXR (owed to it being one of the leading VR game engines), it’s good news today to hear the company affirm its commitment to the standard and say that it’s accelerating work to bring OpenXR to Unity. Learn more about these efforts by Unity.
Join Brent Insko, OpenXR Working Group Chair and 6 speakers from Collabora, Holochip, LunarG and Ultraleap for this OpenXR webinar on October 28th. There will be code examples, update on a new conformant product, discussion of two extensions: experimental overlays and hand tracking, Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), and available vendor services. There will be a live Q&A at the conclusion of the presentations. Register today!