On May 17, Microsoft will unveil more information on a new augmented reality (AR) Minecraft game, which sees the iconic pixellated world come to life via our phones. The company teased the new project at their annual Build conference keynote on May 6.
The short trailer depicts a young woman accidentally picking up a stranger’s phone on a bench (the stranger is actually Minecraft’s Creative Director, Saxs Persson). The phone is running an augmented reality app that allows her to see a Minecraft pig on the street in front of her, as well as a pair of friendly Minecraft villagers. The teaser’s “wrong phone” setup is a nod to the recurring issue of busy tech execs accidentally leaving valuable prototypes in public (case in point: the Apple iPhone 4 guy, and most recently, the Huawei Honor guy).
While AR isn’t exactly a new area for Microsoft (remember their HoloLens mixed reality project?) this is the first time it’s tried it with mobile gaming. HoloLens was an experimental mixed-reality offshoot of Microsoft’s Kinect technology, and was recently confirmed as a new combat tool for the US military. The Minecraft game is expected to run on Azure Spatial Anchors, a cross-platform development tool for mixed-reality projects that integrates with HoloLens, iOS, and Android.
Besides placing blocks in realtime, and interacting with Minecraft’s denizens in the (holographic) flesh, we’re not sure what other features are in store. Microsoft will release more details on May 17, the game’s tenth anniversary. At any rate, you should prepare to face a new wave of crowds wandering the streets while glued to their phones.