philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Apple and Microsoft’s Upcoming Events Will Push AR and VR Further Ahead

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will hold its annual iPhone event next week, where the company is expected to launch the all-new iPhone 8 (along with incremental updates for a new iPhone 7s and 7s Plus), a new version of its Apple Watch, and perhaps even a new 4K Apple TV. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will have its own event in mid-October, in which the company will debut the latest update to its Windows 10 platform, called the Fall Creators Update.

There's plenty of things going on at both of these events to talk about, but what I want to focus on specifically here is how the companies will likely spur on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) adoption through the software updates at these events.

Microsoft is tweaking its software to make it easier for users to use plug-and-play virtual reality headsets with Windows 10.5b285907-42e1-4c4d-9247-2e7b1727237f_edited_large

Right now, high-end VR systems typically have separate sensors that have to be set up with desktops in order to track movement, but the new third-party devices that will debut alongside the Windows 10 update have integrated sensors that were developed by Microsoft for its Hololens augmented reality headsets.

Microsoft said in a recent blog post that third-party hardware makers will debut new, relatively inexpensive virtual reality headsets at the event and that they'll range from $299 for just the headset device to $499 for a headset with controllers.

Microsoft also says it will adjust how the software processes VR content based on how powerful a PC is. Essentially, there will be two tiers of Windows computers in the coming months: Windows Mixed Reality PCs and Windows Mixed Reality Ultra PCs. The former will consist of desktops and laptops with an integrated graphics card and will process VR content at 60 frames per second. The latter are desktops and laptops with their own discrete graphics processor that will be able to send 90 frames per second to the VR headsets.

Adding augmented reality to iOS 11 means that millions of Apple's customers, and potentially hundreds of millions of Apple devices, will soon have access to some of the most sophisticated AR apps on the market.

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek back in June Apple CEO Tim Cook said of AR that, "The first step in making it a mainstream kind of experience is to put it in the operating system. We're building it into iOS 11, opening it to ­developers -- and unleashing the creativity of millions of people."

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