Microsoft's HoloLens may the coolest new advancements in technology we've seen in quite some time, and anyone (with deep pockets) can buy one right now. But so far it's been an isolated platform where you experience mixed reality alone and others watch you air tap nothing but air. Developers are working to change that, and we're seeing the first examples crop up online already.
In Spinteractive AR's video above, you can see a demonstration of a multiplayer game built using Microsoft's training course, Holograms 240. Players shoot electronic orbs into a robotic environment that appears viewable through a rip in the fabric of space and time. Players can help each other target enemies or they can shoot each other. The point of the game might be a little lost in the demo, but you can clearly see the benefits of multiple users experiencing mixed reality together.
But they're not alone in making an effort to create multiuser holographic experiences. Several other developers are working towards this end as well. Developer Imran Shafiq created this ball-rolling game with a platform meant to be occupied by four people:
Jumping back to even the first demonstrations of the HoloLens, even Microsoft clearly has collaborative efforts in mind. In the below video, you'll see their original Minecraft demo which shares content between a Surface and HoloLens. The previous examples demonstrate that it's possible for two HoloLens users to share the same content as well. Hopefully, this is a direction Microsoft intends to head with Minecraft and many of their other great apps. Previous announcements indicate that it is.
Plenty of Pokémon battle mockups have been created to show how much further Pokémon GO will, well, go with this technology. The below example shows multiplayer capabilities with an iPad. While we've only seen single-player HoloLens demonstrations, if an iPad can do this, so can an HMD.
Virtual worlds often concern the uninitiated with thoughts of disconnection and isolation, because if you wear a headset and avoid direct human contact, it comes across as antisocial—at first glance. Mixed reality demonstrates why that's wrong, because it enhances our reality and what we can do with it. While VR might flourish as an escapist technology, it still offers opportunities to connect with others in a variety of ways—like with AltSpaceVR and vTime. Of course, this comes with a need for etiquette and appropriate behavior, but that's a human problem more than a technological one.
While it might not seem like much, multiuser interaction and multiplayer gaming will have a major impact on the future of mixed, virtual, and augmented realities. This technology can serve to connect us, and it's very encouraging to see developers already taking steps to make that happen.