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Microsoft’s mixed reality play set to boost global VR hardware market

Microsoft’s mixed reality play set to boost global VR hardware market

The enterprise market heats up as quarterly VR headset shipments hit 1 million in a quarter

Microsoft HoloLens and Autodesk Fusion 360

Microsoft HoloLens and Autodesk Fusion 360

Virtual reality (VR) headset makers are set to see a “sizeable” boost in shipments next year thanks, in no small part, to Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform, according to Canalys.

Specifically, the industry analyst firm suggests that next year’s VR hardware boost will be largely due to new entrants to the market supporting Microsoft’s Mixed Reality platform, formerly known as Windows Holographic.

“VR in business can be applied to many industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare and education,” Canalys analyst, Jason Low, said.

“As top-tier PC vendors, including HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Dell, launch their own VR headsets, using their distribution channel efficiencies, one can expect a strong VR uptake in business,” he said.

Canalys’s prediction comes as global VR headset shipments reached 1 million units in a single quarter for the first time, during the third quarter of 2017.

According to Canalys, the bulk of the VR hardware business went to heavily consumer-focused players, with Sony taking the lead, shipping more than 490,000 PlayStation VR (PS VR) sets in the third quarter.

Sony was followed by Oculus, which shipped 210,000 of its Rift headsets. At the same time, HTC took third place, shipping 160,000 Vive VR units.

Collectively, Sony, Oculus and HTC made up 86 per cent of the total market in Q3 2017.

“VR adoption in the consumer segment is highly dependent on price, and Oculus’ strategy of lowering prices has definitely helped drive adoption,” Canalys Research analyst, Vincent Thielke, said.

While the consumer market continues to dominate the VR and the augmented reality (AR) market, Microsoft has already gone some way to showing that the enterprise market could be harbouring an enormous amount of potential that is yet to be tapped or indeed identified.

Microsoft’s Mixed Reality offering supports both third party VR headsets from the likes of Acer, Dell, Lenovo and HP, which were collectively launched in October along with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, as well as augmented reality – or in the words of Microsoft, mixed reality – hardware, such as its own HoloLens headset.

Empired is one of the local enterprise IT players building applications on top of Microsoft’s HoloLens platform for a range of industries across Australia as it works to tap into the growing demand for immersive reality devices.

Spanning mining, manufacturing and architecture, the Microsoft solutions provider is capitalising on market growth both locally and globally, creating new offerings for businesses nationwide in the process.

“The HoloLens is definitely what you would call emerging or disruptive technology,” Empired general manager of Western Australia, Stuart Strickland, told ARN earlier this year.

“It lets people work, collaborate and communicate in entirely new ways. By creating software that utilises the HoloLens, Empired is helping businesses innovate and compete in ways they haven’t been able to consider in the past.”

Likewise, Datacom made the move late last year to offer its customers across Australia and New Zealand access to mixed and augmented reality technologies with Microsoft HoloLens.

“Augmented reality has reached the point where humans can interact with it in completely natural ways, from visualisation to gesture and speech recognition, which allows us to be much more efficient and do things we could never have done before,” Datacom Systems managing director Australia and New Zealand, Greg Davidson, said at the time.

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Tags MicrosoftWindowsempiredaugmented realityvirtual realityVRHoloLensARDataconmixed reality

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