What if you could pull a photo of an armoire from an e-commerce site, convert it into a three-dimensional life-size image, and project a hologram of it in your bedroom? You'd be able to determine whether the armoire fits the room's dimensions. You'd be able to see if the color clashes with your existing furniture. You could rotate and move the hologram to determine the ideal spot and angle for the armoire. You'd be able to buy that armoire without ever leaving the comfort of your home. This is just one of the many possibilities Microsoft envisions for its Windows 10 Creators Update.
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By now, you've probably heard all about Microsoft's recent Windows 10 event, and more specifically, the design-focused Microsoft Surface Studio, a 28-inch foldable desktop All-in-One. While the Surface Studio definitely stole the show, it was the Windows 10 update that should have the imaginations of business users revving.
Microsoft would like to enable 3D creations in all of its traditional creative applications. Tools like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Paint will soon allow users to manipulate images in order to add dimensionality. Not to mention new tools like 3D Art Studio, and the online community Remix 3D, which will connect 3D image creators and creations.
How It Could Work
Microsoft would like for you to be able to take a photo of a product with your smartphone, pull it into Paint, add dimensionality, and then use that image in a PowerPoint deck. By adding Transitions to your slides, you'll be able to scroll from one angle of the product to another (side view, top view, bottom view) all while mimicking the effect you'd get from a moving animation.
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The new 3D feature will let you crop product images out of larger photos in order to replace the background. Then you would insert a 3D item alongside your product to add depth of scene. The Windows update will let you share it to your Facebook audience without having to sacrifice the 3D image.
These features aim to give tech novices capabilities typically associated with Adobe Photoshop users and design experts. It would make the process of creating interactive, multidimensional presentations and marketing materials easier than ever before.
Pictured above: Microsoft Paint 3D
3D Reality Means Virtual Reality
The most dramatic and impactful ramifications of these updates, particularly for business users, will occur when Microsoft HoloLens is added to the mix. By combining Microsoft Edge with Hololens, digital content can be entered into the real world as a hologram. A real product captured via photo, edited in Paint, and then added to the real world as a hologram will appear exactly as the product would in real life, but from anywhere in the world.
Microsoft plans to add geographic immersive travel to the Hololens experience. You'll be able to tour Sicily in three dimensions, while instantly accessing all of your traditional Windows 10 apps. This will have massive potential for businesses.
You could send your entire sales organization to a virtual conference, where they could take notes in Word, pull images from the event into the organization via Paint and OneDrive. Your workers would benefit from virtual training sessions, virtual sales calls, and gamification-based training activities in which they compete against sales teams in other geographies. Your helpdesk staff could virtually travel to the site of customer issues and help them make changes without having to listen to painstakingly incorrect customer assessments of technical issues.
With this virtual, multi-dimensional, reality, your executive leadership could tour factory floors to see how the new product line is being developed. Safety protocol could be overseen from afar. Quality assurance could be conducted without ever leaving the office.
You could also empower your customers to tour the showroom floor without leaving their desks. Consumers could try on or measure products in order to make buying decisions. Customers could mix and match products in real scale to determine the perfect home furnishing combo, test a vacation before booking tickets, or visit a restaurant before making a reservation.
But before we strap Hololens to our heads and attempt to visit the Sistine Chapel, Microsoft still has to release the Windows 10 Creators Update. It's scheduled to go live in spring 2017 after it's gone through multiple rounds of bug fixes and product enhancements, which will likely go on even after its inital release.
If and when the product is delivered (and if it eventually works as advertised) developers will then have to design the appropriate experiences into their particular applications. Finally, those new features will need to be verified as compatible with the corresponding Windows 10 application. So all in all, while this is a fantastic vision, the first steps of this ambitious journey will most likely take years.