I tried Microsoft’s first Mixed Reality headset and it was just like VR

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Microsoft is planning to introduce a number of what it calls Mixed Reality headsets later this year. While the software maker first unveiled HoloLens as its answer to augmented reality, it has expanded its plans with a larger “Mixed Reality” focus. I got a chance at Microsoft’s Build developer conference to try out Acer’s Mixed Reality headset.

The hardware itself felt comfortable on my head, and I was able to quickly adjust it for a tighter fit. It didn’t feel particularly heavy, but I only tested an app experience on the headset for around 10 minutes. The gaze support and tracking felt just like any regular VR headset, and it was quick to respond to when I glanced in opposite directions without making me feel sick.

The demo experience I tested was a weather map that let you analyze data on wind direction and precipitation. It was fairly basic, but interactive. I could walk around and briefly test the six degrees of freedom which seemed to work well with the sensors built into the device. I used an Xbox One controller to drop pins and interact with the map, but Microsoft is also releasing motion controllers with a round trackpad, analog stick, and menu button.


Acer Mixed Reality controller bundle

I was most surprised by the actual experience of using this Mixed Reality headset. I was expecting a HoloLens setup, but it’s literally just virtual reality. You lift the visor to see the real world, but there’s no mixed reality here. It’s confusing that Microsoft has opted to call these headsets Mixed Reality. Microsoft has shown demonstrations of where these headsets map real space and putting virtual objects onto pass-through video, but I wasn’t able to try this experience.

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I was also unable to test the actual shell and default apps experience in this “Mixed Reality” world of Windows. As this is a virtual reality environment, the apps and experiences will differ a little to how HoloLens projects objects into your vision. Microsoft still hasn’t fully detailed how this works, but with headsets shipping over the summer we’ll soon get to experiment with Windows Mixed Reality fully.

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