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"You end up putting holes in your wall for a $800 product so you can see a cube"

Microsoft's Alex Kipman takes the virtual gloves off

Microsoft's slightly under-the-radar announcement that it was vicariously entering the VR race on Wednesday, with five major third-party technology firms creating mixed-reality headsets based on Microsoft Holographic technology, has shaken up the nascent market again, deftly positioning the Windows ecosystem in the centre of the VR value spectrum.

Its a strong move, delivered with an uncharacteristic subtlety, but lead designer Alex Kipman (who was the brains behind Kinect) was happy to spice it up a bit with some fairly unfiltered commentary on how it compares to some of the rival devices available.

"The stuff is super expensive," said Kipman in an interview with Polygon. "You need a $1,500 PC to get started and then something like a $500 Oculus device."

"You have HTC creating things like chaperone to make sure you don't hurt yourself," Kipman continued. "So you end up putting holes in your wall for a $800 product so you can see a cube. And you still can't see the people in the room."

This, Kipman suggests, is the key advantage of the Microsoft approach - enabling immersive display tech without isolating the user from the world completely.

"It allows you to freely move through space safely," he said of the forthcoming devices. "This is the first created for the real world. This is the thing that people are saying is the future. But it's something we are shipping with the Windows 10 Creators Update. Nobody in the world has this. This is HoloLens technology.

"We've lowered the specs you need for a PC from a $1,500 system to a $500 one. So now what used to cost you $2,000 [including the headset and PC], now you can get into for $800 and it's the most powerful, most immersive experience."

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