One of the most surprising, and interesting, reveals from the Windows 10 Consumer Preview event was the announcement of HoloLens. Microsoft HoloLens is a virtual reality (VR) headset. Its Microsoft’s first leap into the world of VR and augmented reality (AR), to compete with the likes of Google Glass, Samsung Gear VR and other similar headsets. HoloLens is focused on bringing a holographic world to your life.
Let’s examine what Microsoft HoloLens can do, why this could spark interest in consumers, and how they’ll compete with every other VR/AR headset out there.
What is Microsoft HoloLens
Microsoft wants to combine the worlds of VR and AR, turning towards holographic imagery to create an entire world at your fingertips. When you put on HoloLens, you’re immersed in a 3D environment that you can fully interact with on many levels. We saw a demonstration of HoloLens at the Windows 10 Consumer Preview event that showcased everything from a drone being built to interacting with a pre-made hologram.
It was an interesting leap into the wearables field for Microsoft, featuring a headset that looks more like a pair of goggles than what we’re using to seeing. Augmented reality is something a handful of companies are looking to jump into, but so far, Microsoft is the first to bring a polished, almost complete, product to fruition.
Alex Kipman, the creator behind Xbox’s Kinect technology, led the presentation on HoloLens and used real world demonstration to showcase its power. HoloLens features see-through lenses, a spatial sound system, a variety of motion sensors and comes with built-in CPU power. You don’t need to tether HoloLens to a Windows 10 device; it’s a standalone product, unlike the majority of VR and AR headsets out there.
Kipman highlighted a variety of ways and fields HoloLens could be used, including in the medical, construction and repair fields. However, for consumers, you could potentially do everything from talk to others via holograms to creating art to watching movies. There’s a wide application of what HoloLens could do and when compared to other VR and AR headsets out there, Microsoft appears to be far ahead of many others in the market.
One of the interesting highlights of the HoloLens demo was introducing a pre-designed hologram of Microsoft’s Terry Myerson. Once loaded into the HoloLens universe, you will able to listen to him speak, move and interact within the holographic universe whole wearing the device. Kipman hinted that consumers would be able to create holographic representations of themselves at some point but no telling how or at what cost.
To highlight what Microsoft HoloLens can do, IGN’s Alaina Yee demoed HoloLens after the Windows 10 Consumer Preview event concluded. Yee talked about how when using the device, she was able to walk across the surface of Mars, something she’d most likely never get to do in real life. This is the power of what HoloLens could do for everyone.
Microsoft HoloLens Specs
Microsoft HoloLens features no wires or tethers. It’s sleek, stylish design has taken what Google Glass sought to do on the fashion level and combined it with what other VR and AR headsets use for see-through displays, creating a beautiful combination for the average consumer to wear.
HoloLens features a transparent lens and sensors that helps immerse you in a holographic world. The headset itself is lightweight, adjustable and will work with any adult head. HoloLens uses spatial sound, so you don’t have to wear headphones or something similar to hear sound. Spatial sound allows you to hear where sound is coming from anywhere in the room, giving you a 360 degree sound experience.
HoloLens will be powered by the technology behind Windows 10. HoloLens is a Windows10-based, standalone device.
Who Will Develop for Microsoft HoloLens?
Potentially, everyone. Once Microsoft releases how development for HoloLens will proceed when it comes to applications, everyone from Oculus Rift to other AR companies could jump on board. While Microsoft didn’t touch much on gaming for HoloLens, besides Minecraft, I’d be surprised to not seeing gaming developers try to jump on board as soon as possible.
HoloLens will use a system called Holo Studio for those to create within HoloLens while wearing the device. The demos at the Windows 10 Consumer Preview event, along with the details we’ve read, show that HoloLens, so far, is geared towards hobbyists and builders.
Microsoft HoloLens will also let you Skype, watch Netflix, and interact with other apps in a holographic universe that you use on an everyday basis. While an exhaustive list of apps available for HoloLens hasn’t been released, yet, it’s only a matter of time before we see the big names in app development will jump on board.
This is AR on steroids, and it’s no surprise Microsoft kept a lid on it until the official announcement.
I know many tech bloggers are mocking Microsoft’s use of holographic technology with HoloLens, but personally, I think it’s pretty darn cool. Microsoft has found a way to create an immersive environment that truly involves the consumer within it. Whether or not they’ll be able to offer it for a price consumers can afford is another thing.
Microsoft hasn’t announced when HoloLens will be available for purchase, but if I had to guess it would be around the time Windows 10 hits the market. If Microsoft wants to sell a standalone Windows 10-based device, like HoloLens, it makes the most sense to make it available when Windows 10 is finalized. There’s no telling if there will be a test pilot program like Google Glass, but HoloLens is an interesting concept from Microsoft and I for one can’t wait to check it out.