Microsoft announces new mixed reality tools for the workplace

Between its efforts with HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft has been particularly adamant about the role mixed reality experiences will play in the future of computing. One of the biggest potential growth areas for mixed reality lies in the workplace, which we've already seen in everything from operating rooms to automobile design studios.

At its Build 2018 developer conference, Microsoft announced two new mixed reality apps built for the workplace. Both apps are built with firstline workers in mind, with the aim of enabling "richer experiences that understand the context surrounding people, the things they use, their activities, and relationships," Microsoft says.

The first application, Microsoft Remote Assist, acts as a way for workers to remotely collaborate with experts on their Microsoft Teams contact list. The app includes hands-free video calling, image sharing, and mixed reality annotations – all of which enable the worker to keep their hands free while being guided through a task.

The next application, Microsoft Layout, is essentially a design app for mixed reality. Customers bring 3D models into a room in real-world scale, checking them out in a physical space around them or in virtual reality. The spaces can then be shared and edited with others in real time.

With HoloLens already gaining some traction amongst industrial users, Layout and Remote Assist are interesting additions to the experience. Both apps are expected to be available for free in a limited preview starting May 22.