The Acer Windows Mixed Reality Development Edition headset is shipping this month, the first HMD to include the inside-out tracking technology pioneered on the HoloLens. This marks the beginning of the rollout of Microsoft-endorsed VR headsets that support ‘world scale’ tracking and ‘mixed reality’ apps.

Originally announced at Microsoft’s keynote in October 2016, VR headsets with inside-out tracking from HP, Dell, Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer (with another from 3Glasses revealed in December), are due to launch later this year. The rollout of the developer kit begins this month in the form of the ‘Acer Windows Mixed Reality Development Edition headset’.

Microsoft insist on using the term ‘mixed reality’, despite the new headsets being much like any other VR headset, but using inside-out tracking. The Acer unit uses two 90Hz 1440×1440 panels – totally opaque, unlike Microsoft’s HoloLens, which has a transparent visor to overlay images over the real world. Gesture tracking, another key pillar of the HoloLens experience, is also missing from the Acer HMD. The ‘mixed reality’ delivered by the Acer headset is defined by the inside-out tracking system, which provides positional tracking without the need for external sensors, as well as being able to outline real-world objects so that you don’t walk into them, and ability to access the Windows Holographic environment.

The devkit will include access to Windows 10 Insider preview builds and the SDK to enable developers to build mixed reality applications. Announced at GDC 2017 and via the Windows Blog, Microsoft has broad plans beyond the Windows desktop and HoloLens, bringing mixed reality content to the Xbox One family of devices, including Project Scorpio, in 2018.

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The trial version of Microsoft’s Monster Truck Madness probably had something to do with it. And certainly the original Super Mario Kart and Gran Turismo. A car nut from an early age, Dominic was always drawn to racing games above all other genres. Now a seasoned driving simulation enthusiast, and former editor of Sim Racer magazine, Dominic has followed virtual reality developments with keen interest, as cockpit-based simulation is a perfect match for the technology. Conditions could hardly be more ideal, a scientist once said. Writing about simulators lead him to Road to VR, whose broad coverage of the industry revealed the bigger picture and limitless potential of the medium. Passionate about technology and a lifelong PC gamer, Dominic suffers from the ‘tweak for days’ PC gaming condition, where he plays the same section over and over at every possible combination of visual settings to find the right balance between fidelity and performance. Based within The Fens of Lincolnshire (it’s very flat), Dominic can sometimes be found marvelling at the real world’s ‘draw distance’, wishing virtual technologies would catch up.
  • VRgameDevGirl

    Awesome!! I love how fast VR is moving. I hope inside out tracking works just as well as lighthouse tracking. I also wonder if this headset will be wireless?

    • Smokey_the_Bear

      Nope, they’ll be wired. I was personally hoping to here about controllers, how are people supposed to develop apps for it, it they don’t know how the user will control their app.

      • VRgameDevGirl

        Oh yeah. I didn’t even think about that!! Lol hmmmmmm…… I’m guessing/hoping they will have done type of motion controllers like vive/touch.

        • Smokey_the_Bear

          I would hope so, but the problem is, it’s inside out tracking, so if the HMD’s camera’s cant see your hands…then your virtual hands/gun/sword/paintbrush/ect, would vanish.

          • hyperskyper

            I’ve heard that there will be a standard motion controller that works with all of the new HMDs. An optimal controller will be a mix of the Daydream View and Vive controllers. The device would be tracked using the cameras on the headset when it is in view. It would hopefully have a gyroscope and accelerometer for when it moves out of view.

          • VRgameDevGirl

            Hmmmm yeah, this Will be interesting. On a side note, I wonder, since it will have a depth sensor, if hand tracking (like leap motion) could play a role…

          • Full Name

            Yes, this is a plus of the inside out approach, though of course it is limited to whatever the camera sees.

          • Full Name

            It would be very hard to make that work well. It will never match the accuracy of something like the Vive unfortunately.

          • lovethetech

            Rift is good but not much close to what MS has done.

            MS has done the holygrail of Spatial tracking and spatial mapping.

          • Full Name

            The headset inside-out tracking is quite impressive, but not quite on par with the Rift yet. A bigger problem is that they don’t have a good way of tracking controllers yet.

          • TimothyStone

            I don’t see this as a problem. With a wide enough angle it would pick up your hands. Now trying to figure out occlusion of your fingers is another thing altogether.

      • lovethetech

        Game controller 3DoF or 6DoF controller
        details answered in comparing to Vive & Rift.,33217.html

    • Full Name

      It won’t be as accurate, and inside out will always have an issue adding motion controllers to the mix. It isn’t wireless either.

      • Konchu

        Well I don’t think motion controls would be impossible and quality is to be seen but inside out works like Kinect to my understanding aka project and IR grid and calculate with Cameras or the use of Stereo Cameras. People have used multiple Kinects for mocap. so why could they not add inside out cameras/projectors to the controllers themselves.

    • TimothyStone

      Next generation headsets next year will be wireless.

      Wireless + Inside-out tracking + higher resolution + windows 10 + Scorpio = WIN

    • OgreTactics

      “I love how fast VR is moving.” Do you believe what you are saying, or are you just one of those “oblivious positive attitude” people?

  • Ian Shook

    Dare I ask… How’s the FOV?

    • lovethetech

      Good question. This is VR and it is good.

  • VR Geek

    This is exciting news. Cannot wait to learn more details. Looks like inside out is arriving with avengence at the back half of this year.

  • Mike

    I’m surprised Samsung wasn’t a partner.

    • lovethetech

      May be Samsung’s close relations with Android.
      Samsung is already working with Rift for gear VR.

  • davo

    If it has better optics than the vive or rift ill buy it. Current VR resolution is awfull

    • Jim Cherry

      I’m sure that one of the 5 expected headsets will meet or beat the vive/rift but it will probably be a higher end model. I doubt acer’s headset will be high end.

    • lovethetech

      it is 1200×1080 per eye & 1440×1440 per eye for the low end and high end systems. = or better than the current Vive or Rift.

    • Full Name

      LG has shown off a prototype SteamVR (Vive compatible) headset, with different lenses, and a resolution of 1440×1280 per eye (more than the Vive and Rift). It will likely be out in the next 8-12 months.

  • OgreTactics

    Microsoft made it’s best move (beside the unexpected Surface Studio) for years by including Windows 10 to Xbox One.

    Also when Microsoft and it’s OEM partners are making the obvious “innovative” (not at all, but let’s use that word for the sake of it) steps towards a real Virtual Headset by implementing external depth tracking and the millions of applications that will result from see-through AR, that tells you a lot about how “lazy” (read “incredibly money-hungry tech iteration retention, for the sake of scrap savings”) Samsung, Google, HTC, Oculus are…

    …except this conceptually doesn’t fare with a tethered PC headset, let alone a wired one. We’re really walking on the head here.

  • alphonse

    But are we still getting windows holographic along with the creator’s update next month?