We seem to be a screen-obsessed society these days, be it on phones or on computers. Truth be told, if we could have more screens, we would jump on them without a second thought. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, there are only so many screens you can afford and squeeze in a physical location. One solution would be to have an almost infinite number of virtual windows you can place anywhere in virtual space, which is exactly what Microsoft’s Mt. Rogers research project is proposing you do.
The idea and implementation aren’t exactly new. Microsoft itself has already been playing around with virtual windows in Windows Mixed Reality/Holographic. That said, that MR experience still focused more on new UI and new interfaces while Mt. Rogers seems more focused on bringing traditional windows and applications to VR but with added capabilities.
Mt. Rogers’ emphasis is on “novel optics, new text rendering techniques and a user experience optimized for traditional productivity scenarios (ex. Office, browsing, development)”. With that kind of technology, you can plop down anywhere, put on a headset, and start typing away on your laptop keyboard.
Of course, that presumes a lot of things, primarily that people will be open to the idea of wearing a VR headset in public. For Mt. Rogers to be useful, it will have to be the type of headset that mostly occludes the rest of the world though, in the future, that may no longer be a hard requirement. But without any external visual input, typing on anything will be quite difficult for most people.
There are also safety and security considerations when you have no idea what’s going on around you. It will be some time before we can safely and comfortably use such VR applications in public but, unless we curb our screen addiction, this could very well be the future.