SharePoint Spaces Brings Mixed Reality To Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft wants to make collaborative immersive experiences accessible to everyone.

With 135M Office 365 monthly active users and 400K organizations currently using SharePoint, Microsoft is now investing in AI and immersive experiences to enhance the collaborative functions of the platform.

“As new generations that have grown up with technology are entering the workforce, bringing new expectations and norms, it’s more important than ever for companies to engage their employees in cutting-edge ways that help them feel inspired and innovative,” says Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President for OneDrive, SharePoint, and Office. ”SharePoint spaces bring immersive, mixed reality experiences to anyone, on any device.”

The new mixed reality SharePoint spaces experience will add a new dimension to company intranets, allowing you to engage and interact with documents, data, and video in new and more immersive ways and create your own in a matter of minutes.

“You can augment a space with content from across Microsoft 365 and from other data sources and services. You can customize a space to reflect your brand. And you can build new capabilities for SharePoint spaces with the SharePoint Framework,” says Teper. “Mixed reality is one of the most important technological trends in the modern workplace, with the power to transform work for everyone, from the executive suite to the front line.”

This expands from some of the other mixed reality announcements at Microsoft’s Build conference in May, such as Microsoft Remote Assist

SharePoint spaces wants to mainstream mixed reality by enabling users to not only view and interact with content from every angle, but visualize and manipulate data and product models in real-time as well.

“Mixed reality experiences immerse you, focus your attention, engage your senses, and spark your curiosity and imagination to unlock new scenarios for communication, learning, and collaboration,” explains Teper, citing a few examples of use cases the platform would enable, such as:

Recruiting and onboarding​—Recruits or new employees can learn about a company in 360-degee virtual welcome and orientation, including a 360-degree video message from leadership. They can navigate the campus or building with 3D maps, learn the organizational structure with an interactive organization chart, or explore rich information about co-workers and the organization’s products.

Learning— Gain broad perspective with a panoramic view of a topic and learning objectives. Then explore personalized, relevant, and dynamic content. Ignite your curiosity by discovering new insights, and dive deep into topics that matter to you. Learn not just by reading or watching, but by experiencing, with your senses engaged.

Product development Surround yourself with experts to look at data, content, and processes from every angle. Explore a prototype in 3D to identify new opportunities, attach annotations, and visualize improvements.

Until now, according to Teper, it has been prohibitively expensive and complex to develop customized mixed reality apps to address these and other business scenarios, and to make mixed reality apps broadly accessible in the workplace, because most require costly headsets. SharePoint spaces will be available in all Office 365 commercial plans and allow anyone to immerse themselves in a virtual space to view and interact with content, information, and video on any device—in a browser, mobile browser, or headset.

“SharePoint spaces empower creators to build immersive experiences with point-and-click simplicity,” Teper concludes. “You can get started with smart templates to create a mixed reality environment complete with beautiful surroundings, ambient sounds, rich textures, and lighting. You then add content, which can include files you already have in SharePoint, allowing you to repurpose your existing data, documents, and images.”

“Our customers already store over a petabyte of 3D content, including 360-degree videos created with mobile phones. SharePoint spaces are the most natural way to view and interact with 3D content, empowering people to interact with objects that might be too numerous, too large, or too dynamic to experience in the real world or in a two-dimensional environment.”

Customers and partners can apply to be part of an early, limited preview by visiting SharePoint spaces.

Image Credit: Microsoft 365


About the Scout

Alice Bonasio

Alice Bonasio runs the Tech Trends blog and contributes to Ars Technica, Quartz, Newsweek, The Next Web, and others. She is also writing VRgins, a book about sex and relationships in the virtual age. She lives in the UK.

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