Microsoft is expanding its effort to break into the burgeoning market of virtual reality, launching a set of motion controllers for the medium and announcing the coming commercial availability of the first immersive headset designed for Windows.
Virtual-reality devices -- which, typically powered by computers, surround a user's eyes with images -- have been a dream of technologists for years. Last year marked the start of a modern gold rush in that endeavor following the debut of high-end VR headsets built by Facebook-owned Oculus and the partnership between HTC and Bellevue-based Valve.
Microsoft, which spent years developing HoloLens [pictured above], the company's own take on an augmented-reality headset that projects images into the environment of the wearer, last year opened up a portion of the software behind that device to other developers.
Acer, the Taiwanese computer hardware maker, will sell a Windows-compatible virtual-reality bundle featuring its own headset and Microsoft's "mixed reality motion controllers," starting at $399, by the end of the year, Microsoft was set to announce Thursday at its Build developer conference.
Those untethered controllers can be paired with other headsets, Microsoft says. Unlike some other headset controllers that rely on motion sensors in a room to track a user's movements, Microsoft's are designed to be free roaming, as long as the controllers are in their operator's field of view.
Acer's product is among the slate of virtual-reality headsets designed for Windows 10 that Microsoft says are coming. The company has said many of the devices built by hardware partners like Acer, Lenovo and HP will be more affordable than the high-end headsets released last year. The HTC-Valve Vive costs $799, and Oculus's Rift retails for $599.
© 2017 Seattle Times under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.