This morning, in an early morning session at GDC 2017, Brandon Bray, a senior program manager lead at Microsoft, revealed a mixed reality headset made in collaboration with Acer—a different headset than the one we saw from Acer at CES 2017 earlier this year. Also at the event, the name for Microsoft's holographic system seems to have changed from Windows Holographic to Windows Mixed Reality.
Acer's new developer-friendly device, called the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Development Edition headset, is an occluded head-mounted display geared toward use with the new Windows 10-based platform. Unlike the virtual reality options already out, such as the Vive and Oculus Rift, it does not require a high-powered computer to work well.
Also, it includes inside-out tracking, which means no external sensors are needed to track your movements, a feature future collaborative headsets from ASUS, Dell, HP, and Lenovo are expected to have.
When we begin the phased rollout of the developer kits this month, the kits will include the Acer headset, along with documentation and access to Windows 10 Insider preview builds and the software development kit (SDK) to enable developers to build mixed reality applications.
Here are the official specs that Microsoft lists for the device:
- two high-resolution liquid crystal displays at 1,440 x 1,440 pixels
- a display refresh rate of up to 90 Hz (native)
- built-in audio out and microphone support through 3.5 mm jack
- single cable with HDMI 2.0 (display) and USB 3.0 (data) for connectivity
One fun point to mention is that the headset's visor can be flipped up and put back down, depending on the developer's need for easy transitioning between coding and testing. As someone that spends a good deal of time with my HoloLens sitting on my head, sliding it back and forth, this is a very convenient option.
Developers at the GDC '17 session also received "golden tickets" from Microsoft, which means they'll get a free dev kit as soon as they're ready to ship out. The headset is expected to cost $299, like other low-cost headsets from Microsoft's manufacturing partners.
I had a moment to talk to Brandon at the Microsoft booth after the session, and when asked about seeing more details about the Windows Mixed Reality system itself, other than concept videos, his response was "Build 2017." May seems so far away!