Today, at Microsoft Future Decoded in London, over 15,000 IT and business decision makers came together to talk about current and emerging trends happening at the intersection of business and technology. I was thrilled to be there talking about our vision for mixed reality and the work we are doing to bring powerful new capabilities to the modern workplace.
We shared how technologies like Microsoft 365, Microsoft HoloLens, Windows Mixed Reality, and 3D are helping companies, Firstline Workers, and Information Workers become agents of change in the modern workplace and digital transformation.
In addition to outlining our vision for mixed reality in the modern workplace, we also announced that HoloLens is coming to 29 new markets in Europe.
Microsoft’s vision for Mixed Reality in the Modern Workplace
At Microsoft, we are on a mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Mixed reality has the potential to help customers and businesses across the globe do things that until now, have never been possible. Mixed reality experiences will help businesses and their employees complete crucial tasks faster, safer, more efficiently, and create new ways to connect to customers and partners.
As we think about how mixed reality will change the way we work, it’s important to acknowledge that the very nature of what it means to work is changing.
Just as the agricultural revolution led to rapid increases in agricultural productivity, or the industrial revolution ushered in entirely new manufacturing processes, the digital revolution has again redefined what it means to work. “Work” is increasingly defined through human ingenuity, creative problem solving, and collaboration skills. This has created a demand for technology that will support these new ways of working.
The era of mixed reality will serve as a catalyst for innovations in the workplace and we expect Firstline Workers and Information Workers to benefit significantly from solutions that blend our physical and digital reality.
Firstline Workers are more than two billion people in roles that make them the first points of contact between a company and the world it serves. They are often the first to engage customers, the first to represent a company’s brand, and the first to see products and services in action. They form the backbone of many of the world’s largest industries, but they’ve been largely underserved by technology. Without them, the ambitions of many organizations could not be brought to life. Mixed reality is poised to help them work together, problem solve, and communicate in more immersive ways.
For Information Workers, mixed reality will enable collaboration and remote work both synchronously and asynchronously. They can interact more naturally with the digital world. With mixed reality workers can change the content, the people, or even the location of a meeting, in a matter of seconds. Mixed reality delivers interfaces that help workers act upon data generated from instrumented/intelligence devices, and connect seamlessly with others across physical space.
Here is a peek into what mixed reality in the modern workplace makes possible.
HoloLens coming to 29 new European markets
Since our launch in 2016 it has been inspiring to see how customers and partners around the world are using HoloLens to transform their business. HoloLens is being used every day to help people collaborate, communicate, create, and learn.
Here are a few of the industry leaders who are innovating with mixed reality.
- Ford – who are reinventing the way they do product design by blending 3D holograms digitally with both clay models and physical production vehicles.
- thyssenkrupp – who have found ways to dramatically decrease operational costs with remote assist and training.
- Stryker – who has set out to improve the process for designing operating rooms for hospitals and surgery centers.
To address growing demand for mixed reality solutions around the world, we are thrilled to announce that HoloLens will be coming to 29 new markets, bringing the total number of HoloLens markets to 39.
We are also working to bring some of the most asked for software updates for HoloLens to our existing customers. We are committed to delivering an update to existing customers sometime early next year.
Here is a quick and easy way to see all the markets where HoloLens is available. You can learn more about HoloLens availability in your country here.
Innovation in the modern workplace is happening now
Work today has evolved from execution of routine tasks to creative problem solving. The workplace is also changing in dramatic and fundamental ways. From open and integrated physical and digital workspaces, to personalized experiences that flow across devices, teams are more mobile and globally-distributed than ever.
I am passionate about mixed reality in the modern workplace and how it helps real people solve real problems with real solutions. Some of the ways Firstline and Information Workers are using mixed reality to improve how they get work done include:
- Remote Assist – Collaborating with a remote expert to accomplish real tasks, in real spaces, in real-time.
- Training – Creating customized first-person perspective training manuals and step-by-step instructions on new products, processes, and equipment.
- Design – Being able to plan and layout space, collaborate with others, and walk through designs in the real world without costly physical build outs.
- 3D in Office – Collaborating with easy 3D content integration. This is the same 3D content that we will see bridge from PC screens to full mixed reality experiences.
- Mixed Reality Meetings – Team members are looking to be able to join others in real-time or asynchronously, bring in 2D and 3D content, with flexibility to change the location at any time.
- Mixed Reality Data & Analytics – Information workers are gaining access to content in a heads-up, hands-free way, that is contextually and spatially relevant.
We have also worked to ensure that our mixed reality solutions meet important environmental and safety standards.
- HoloLens passes basic impact tests for protective eyewear standards in North America and Europe. It has been tested and found to conform to the basic impact protection requirements of ANSI Z87.1, CSA Z94.3 and EN 166, the most common protective glass certification standards.
- HoloLens has been tested and rated IP50, able to perform as dust protected, a very important scenario for many Firstline Workers.
- And for head protection, we’re happy to announce a HoloLens hard hat accessory is in production and will be available for purchase early next year.
Our customers love existing Skype functionality on HoloLens; however, there are a couple of improvements they’ve been asking for. I’m excited to share that in first quarter of next year we are shipping an additional holographic remote instruction capability built on Microsoft Teams and Azure Active Directory. Our customers will now be able to work more seamlessly within their existing IT infrastructure.
Join the Era of Mixed Reality
There is so much opportunity in front of us and so many ways to join us on our mixed reality journey.
- The Commercial Suite and the Development Edition for HoloLens can be purchased online through the Microsoft Store. Check the online store in your region.
- With 3D in Windows 10, everyone can experience and create amazing things in a new dimension. With PC or tablet running the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, you have the most complete collection of 3D tools and resources available.
- For developers looking to build immersive experiences for Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens, we have numerous developer resources available.
- If you are looking for someone to help you develop mixed reality solutions, check out the Mixed Reality Partner Program. This is an integrated program focused on enabling and supporting digital agencies, systems integrators, and solution providers who are committed to helping others build in mixed reality.
To everyone who has been with us on our journey to date, thank you! For those of you joining now, we can’t wait to meet you. We are looking forward to what comes next.