The first Windows Mixed Reality headsets will start shipping to developers later this month. The company made the announcement at GDC 2017 this week where it also detailed the Acer-made device that will be the standard development edition for the the company’s AR/VR platform platform.
The device features two cameras on the front and inside-out, allowing six degrees-of-freedom tracking — meaning you can move around in VR without any additional hardware like external sensors. Two high resolution panels provide a display resolution of 1440 x 1440, a display refresh rate of up to 90 hertz, there’s also a 3.5mm jack for built-in audio support plus HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0.
The Acer kit will be priced at $299 and Microsoft aims to have commercially available headsets from Asus, Dell and Lenovo by the end of the year. Since these are mixed reality headsets — which means they’ll combine virtual reality and augmented reality — they are fundamentally different from HoloLense.
For one thing, they don’t have see through visors, instead they are opaque like normal VR headsets. This design has some advantages like allowing for a wider field of view, but unlike with the HoloLens instead of seing your actual real world surroundings with digital elements layered over, you only get to see a generic virtual world instead of the actual room you are in, so it doesn’t sound like it’s a full AR experience yet.
In a blog post announcing the Acer headset, Microsoft’s Alex Kipman also revealed that Windows Mixed Reality experiences will light up on other devices over time. “Our plan is to bring mixed reality content to the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio, in 2018,” he wrote.