VR researcher who ran the USC lab where Oculus Rift got its start has joined Microsoft

Microsoft HoloLens

A report this morning by video game news site Polygon states that Microsoft has hired Mark Bolas, the now former director of USC’s Mixed Reality Lab and Studio.

Bolas founded the Mixed Reality Lab and Studio in 2009 as a part of USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies under USC’s School for Cinematic Arts. The MxR Lab is where a number of VR pioneers got their start, including Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey.

The consumer edition of the Oculus Rift.

The consumer edition of the Oculus Rift.

There is no official word yet on what Bolas will be doing at Microsoft. But given his industry leading expertise in mixed reality, odds are he will be working in some capacity on Microsoft’s mixed reality headset HoloLens. The USC MxR Lab’s new director, Todd Richmond did make a statement to Polygon explaining Bolas’s departure, saying:

Mark is on a sort of ‘extended sabbatical’ to get back into the tempo of private sector research and development. He’s an incredibly creative and energetic guy, and the stimulations and associations of academia, government and commercial are all different and fuel his passion in different ways.

According to the report by Polygon, Bolas has been working on VR since the late 1980’s. In addition to founding the MxR Lab and Studio, he also taught at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and co-founded Fakespace Labs. His USC bio describes his work in VR saying it “focuses on creating virtual environment transducers and experiences that fully engage one’s perception and cognition in order to form a visceral memory of the experience.” He also holds more than 20 patents.

HoloLens brings the PGA into Mixed Reality

HoloLens brings the PGA into Mixed Reality

It will be interesting to see what Bolas contributes to Microsoft’s mixed reality program. The developer edition of HoloLens started shipping to developers back in March. Since then we’ve been seeing multiple use cases for HoloLens pop up all over the web. But with Bolas potentially joining the HoloLens team it will be interesting to see what mixed reality experiences Microsoft cooks up in the future.

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