Microsoft Mesh: Now available for creating innovative multi-user 3D experiences for the workplace

Tyler Adams

Desirée Lockwood

You may have heard that Microsoft Mesh is now generally available, providing a new 3D immersive experience for the workplace. Now you have a powerful medium to bring your 3D world building skills to the global workforce, helping users feel closer together no matter where they are.

Companies such as Link To VR and Hololux are already delivering amazing experiences using Mesh. They’ve tapped into capabilities that make 3D multi-user experiences easier and more viable for business scenarios, using the Mesh toolkit to create interactive and engaging content that trains, connects, inspires, and delights users.

Watch our livestream on demand for an overview of Mesh development capabilities with Microsoft experts and industry guests.

Now, let’s review what you’ll have access to when you first explore Mesh, and then look at a couple of real-world examples of how you can build collaborative immersive solutions more quickly, and with greater security.

Start fast with out-of-the-box capabilities

Mesh does the heavy lifting to enable multi-user engagement in 3D environments. Mesh manages the customizable avatar system, Spatial Audio, multi-user synchronization and provides orchestration tools for delivering dynamic meetings and events. This frees you to enrich your business solutions and experiences with engaging environments, interactive content, and business data– all with functionality enabled through the Mesh toolkit.

See your 3D immersive creation take off

We’re building Mesh in a way that jumpstarts adoption of immersive technologies in the workplace. Mesh is now available in the place where hundreds of millions of people already get work done: Microsoft Teams. Exposure to Mesh on Teams will be the starting point for many users as immersive technologies become more commonplace. Users who experience Mesh via Teams will have the same avatars and user controls as when they enter the custom spaces that you create. This consistency makes it simpler for them to get acclimated to new virtual environments.

As a member of the Microsoft 365 family, Mesh helps give businesses confidence when they invest in immersive technologies. Mesh was built with the same security, privacy, and compliance standards you would expect from any Microsoft enterprise product. Because a user’s access to Mesh is tied to their work identity through Microsoft Entra (formerly Azure Active Directory) they never need to leave the corporate network and have no need to install applications outside of a company’s typical policies and processes. And because Mesh can be experienced on a typical workplace PC, organizations can get started without making investments in new hardware. When businesses are ready for their users to experience greater immersion, Mesh is now available on Meta Quest VR headsets and will be coming to Apple Vision Pro in the coming year.

Open the Mesh toolkit to fuel your vision

The Mesh toolkit supports Unity and assists you throughout the development process, no matter your project goals. It offers a range of features, including graphics tools for designing your environment, WebSlate for adding secure and interactive web content, and visual scripting and Mesh physics for creating engaging and interactive experiences. With cloud scripting, you can harness the power of .NET to add complex logic to your scenes or integrate live backend data from business or public sources. Performance tools help optimize fidelity, battery life, user comfort, and download speeds, while the Mesh uploader makes it easy to share your experiences with business users. All these features work together to help you create immersive and engaging solutions quickly and securely.

Mesh offers endless possibilities for businesses and organizations to achieve their goals in new and engaging ways. Let’s take a look at how two companies have leveraged Mesh to bring people together, building diverse experiences from supporting life-saving medical care to fostering teamwork and joy.

An immersive experience to help save lives

Mercy Ships is an international charity that utilizes hospital ships to provide free surgical care and education to communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Link To VR, a spatial computing agency, was brought in to consider how immersive technologies might help provide better access to the ships which spend about 10 months out of the year in port providing services. “When we first got introduced to Mercy Ships, like many, we just fell in love with everything they were doing. Our team was immediately ready to do whatever they could do to help forward their cause,” said Edward Zemba, CEO and President of Link To VR With support of Dell Technologies, the team went to work developing a digital twin of one of Mercy Ship’s floating medical centers, the Global Mercy. Doing so is helping supporters understand the impact of their donations, and can give volunteer medical providers a better sense of the experience before being there in person. 

Part of the goal of the digital Global Mercy experience is to host inspiring events that excite donors and volunteers, without needing to bring them physically together. To do that, the team leverages a range of event orchestration tools available in Mesh for organizers. “There’s a lot to be excited about with the event production tools here in Mesh,” says Regina (Burns) Murphy, of Link To VR who leads delivery of their digital events. Using Mesh features, Regina can simulate the types of things Mercy Ships might do at a physical event with donors or volunteers, such as playing videos or screen sharing a presentation. Hand raising and megaphone capabilities also help attendees engage naturally at question and answer sessions.

While attending a virtual event as an avatar may be quite new to some, Regina believes that rich customizations for how avatars look help Mercy Ship’s global audience feel represented at events and can help put people at ease. Right out of the gate, you’re jumping into a digital space feeling like yourself.

Starting with a scene that was built in Unity, bringing the Global Mercy environment to Mesh was fairly straightforward. “It was actually really quick for us to take our environment and just bring it into Mesh and upload it. Once we understood pipeline for Mesh and how you do the uploads and create environments and templates, it was a pretty simple port” said Marc Tucker, lead developer on the project. Marc believes one reason for the ease was because Mesh uses the universal render pipeline, which has been optimized for lighting systems in Unity. He also credited Mesh’s content performance analyzer (CPA) which allows you to place a camera in the environment, point it in a direction, and get a readout of the performance for PC and Android (Quest) platforms if an avatar was facing that direction. This allowed Link To VR to quickly identify where they needed to spend time to optimize their content.

The CPA is built into the Mesh uploader which is how you make your environment available for events and meetings. Jon Luoni, an additional developer on the project, refers to the uploader as “a hidden gem” for streamlining the publishing process. You initiate the uploader directly from within Unity and publish an environment in just a few clicks. Event organizers can access your content to create events and end users can experience it using the Microsoft Mesh app and their corporate credentials. Simplifying this part of the process kept the Link To VR developers focused on creating new ways to help Mercy Ships advance their cause. One such enhancement is the operating theatre, designed to orient medical providers before setting foot onboard.

Create anything from a magic sleigh to snowball cannons

Hololux, an innovation agency specializing in cutting-edge technologies, set the goal of connecting people and joyfully fostering spontaneous interaction and teamwork through unique immersive experiences. Their solution: The Winter Wonderland. It provides users with a memorable, fun, and intuitive way to interact and build relationships across locations and geographies. As Christian Glessner, Founder & CTO at Hololux puts it, “This project wasn’t just about technology, it was about bringing people together in delightful, unexpected ways.”

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To make Winter Wonderland a reality, the project team included a concept artist, 3D artist, technical artist and a Unity developer. “This mix of skills was vital in creating an engaging and interactive Winter Wonderland,” noted Christian. Together, the imaginative team built several unique team-building exercises. One of the favorites is a snowmen-building activity. This experience leverages built-in physics capabilities like making an object sticky, which helps users to attach carrots, sticks, and lumps of coal to their creations. Developing the snowballs themselves required a bit more custom work—with visual scripting the team made it so individuals could create a new snowball and increase its size by rolling it along the snow-covered ground. In the experience, participants work together to stack and decorate their snow people. It’s such an immersive experience that no one is thinking about the technology, just about their shared fun.

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Not far from the snowman-building area, visitors can find the “Meshmas” tree. To create this activity, the team started with the cannon mini-game that came in the Mesh Physics Effects Gallery sample. They built on that using visual scripting, creating brightly colored cannons with which participants can load and fire decorations that stick to the tree. With everyone working together, this creates the collaborative connections Winter Wonderland hoped to achieve.

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From inspiring donors across the globe to make life-saving contributions to introducing snowmen to someone who has never seen snow, the possibilities of Mesh are endless. And with general availability now underway, they’re yours to create and explore. We’ll see you in the virtual world!

Curious about Mesh? Watch our webinar on demand and get started

Watch our livestream on demand to see real world examples of how Mesh is already deepening relationships, improving meeting and event outcomes, and delighting participants.

Ready to get started right away?

The Mesh toolkit is free to download and provides all the packages you need to start building. You can create a new project from scratch, port an existing project built with Unity, or kick off with a sample. In most cases, we recommend the Mesh 101 sample that includes a step-by-step tutorial. Find links to the tools, samples, and training resources here.

To publish your experiences and explore them with others, all participants will need a Teams Premium License. If you and your users do not yet have Teams Premium, you can add a six-month trial to a new or existing Microsoft 365 business plan. Learn more here.

Follow us on X (Twitter) / @Microsoft365Dev and subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date on the latest developer news and announcements.

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