Episode 82: (Guest) Mixed Reality with Microsoft's Cordy Rierson
Monday 18 September 2017
Cordy Rierson, Director of Mixed Reality Experiences at Microsoft, joins Chase Raz via Skype to talk about Mixed Reality. Cordy and Chase explore what Mixed Reality means, how augmented and virtual reality are incorporated, and the future of blending the physical and digital worlds. Cordy addresses productivity and creativity from a business perspective, as well as the technologies of 3D, VR, AR, screenless computing, cloud computing, and more.
Episode Show Notes
About Cordy Rierson
Cordy Rierson is the Director of Mixed Reality Experiences at Microsoft and has her fingers on the pulse of emerging augmented and virtual technologies through her involvment with HoloLens and 3D for Everyone, and as a part of the leadership team for first party Microsoft Windows Experiences.
Cordy has over twenty years of industry experience at companies like Microsoft, Foundation 9 Entertainment, The Collective, and PDI/Dreamworks. She's worked in software development, film, television, visual effects, animation, and more. Her professional expertise is at the intersection of creativity and technology, and she has professional interests in story-telling and design.
Cordy is a member of the Full Sail University Hall of Fame, has been honored with a Congressional Recognition Award for dynamic digital visual effects in the film industry, is a member of both the International Game Developers Association (where she was also a board member) and the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
What is mixed reality?
Mixed reality is the spectrum of technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and other toolsets that allow people to be creative and productive.
How can I experience Microsoft's Mixed Reality right now?
- View 3D is a program included with the Windows 10 Creators Update (Windows 10 Version 1703) that allows for the viewing of 3D model files.
- View Mixed Reality is a Windows Mixed Reality feature already offered to Windows Insiders and will release with the Fall Creators Update. This will enable a PC with an RGB camera, like a webcam, to see and place a 3D creation in the physical world.
- Paint 3D is already available in the Windows 10 Creators Update (Windows 10 Version 1703). It is a refresh, and replacement, for Microsoft's decades old Paint application. It enables the viewing and relatively easy creation of 3D models as compared to other tools such as Maya or Blender. Cordy suggests the "doodle" tool in Paint 3D to be able to easily draw shapes (with the mouse or by inking with the stylus) that are automatically converted to 3D shapes.
- PowerPoint 2016 now features the ability insert 3D models and apply simple appear and disappear animations just like static images. PowerPoint can also create smooth transitions between different views of a 3D model between slides. At the time of publishing, Office 365 was required as well as voluntary (free) membership into the Office Insider program. (Chase's note: I still had to re-run the Office installer to get this feature, as the PowerPoint updater wasn't showing an available update even within the Insider Program.)
- Developer Editions of headsets (including Microsoft's HoloLens) are available at the Microsoft Store now. New consumer-facing MR devices will be released throughout the upcoming season, Fall 2017.
Where will mixed reality be used in the future?
Mixed reality is location agnostic and mobility is a major factor. The Department of Education claims that as soon as 2020, 65 brand new job positions will have been created that don't exist today. These jobs will focus on creative problem solving. Creativity is shifting to become the new productivity. Our workflows are changing and global distributed development is now viable.
Is competition from Apple and Google too much for Microsoft?
No, Microsoft is trying to enable organizations to "do more" and they're device agnostics. Efforts are being placed into developing a platform for deploying across as many devices as possible.
Will large competitors locking down MR ecosystems hurt Microsoft?
The hope is to continue towards a collaborative space. Collaboration is a better alternative to fierce competition. Microsoft does have an amazing "stack", including Azure and Machine Learning, that compliment Mixed Reality and is well positioned to collaborate or compete. Current partners aren't just interested in aimless innovation, but because a fundamental change in the business process is occurring.
Is Mixed Reality all about gaming?
No. "This is not a gaming exclusive play at all." Helping people solve tough problems and generally making the world a better place are valid pursuits and Cordy's background in video games and film is not indicative of Mixed Reality being a gaming focused technology. "Everybody has a story to tell. Whether they are doing it through a game, or doing it through a film, or doing it so they get funding for something, or doing it so people understand what it is they're talking about and engage in an open discussion and dialog, like education." The focus is on a collaborative and communicative world.
When do we get some more hardware beyond developer editions?
Fall 2017. Also, remember that the "development editions" are in commercial deployments. It's being used at JPL and NASA, Case Western Reserve University, Volvo, and others.
Is HoloLens a one-off to jumpstart an industry or a product line?
HoloLens wasn't just a jumpstart, but Cordy can't necessarily reveal Microsoft's roadmap for HoloLens and Holographic, but she does emphasize that the roadmap does exist. Microsoft is "dedicated to the future of mixed reality". If you'd like to learn more, you can visit hololens.com or the Mixed Reality commercial partner program at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens/partner-program.
Are the Mixed Reality partners open to B2B calls?
Absolutely. They're eager to work with companies that are looking to move into any part of the mixed reality spectrum.
What's coming next? Where are we?
The evolution of computing power is taking us to new input/output methods. We won't have to learn how to interact with machines as much as machines will be more intuitive and work with us. Mixed reality is a part of this as it blends the physical and digital.
Will a screenless computing environment be possible in the future?
"I believe that is absolutely part of the future."
Links and References
- Microsoft HoloLens website https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens
- Microsoft Mixed Reality Partner Program https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens/partner-program
- Microsoft Future Vision video, "Future Slate" (2001) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3sHj6evfMA&t=274s
- Philco-Ford Corporation future video "1999 A.D." (1967) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In0ZxpzetMk
- Lenovo Mirage Star Wars Jedi Challenge Augmented Reality http://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/jedichallenges/
- Microsoft HoloLens Actiongram with George Takei (2016) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwWueXlsOrA