January 22, 2015
Enter HoloLens, Microsoft’s Entrant into the Augmented Reality Race
The virtual reality domain has its latest entrant in the form of what Microsoft is calling the HoloLens. Unveiled and demoed recently at their Windows 10 meet, Alex Kipman showcased the VR glasses that are designed to ‘enhance’ your view of the world with a more interactive and immersive 3D focus.
While augmented reality companies like Oculus Rift and others are already major players in this space, and have commercially available products, Microsoft believes that they too have something unique to offer their customers. The HoloLens, although still a prototype is less intrusive, lighter and supposed to be easier to use without stumbling around, if interacting with the real world.
The company often referred to the viewing of images and the overall virtual 3D environment entered into by wearing the HoloLens goggles, as holograms or holographic. That seems to be a little off, seeing as only the wearer can actually see these virtual creations when the glasses are donned; no one else can. Typically a hologram would be something that’s visible to all. Here one has to enter into a digital realm that ‘overlaps’ the real world.
At the end of the day, what HoloLens is designed to do is give users an immersive experience with their environment with an augmented reality system. From gaming with a virtual Mine Craft world where maps transcend through to the ‘real’ or should we say augmented world or other games that could use real world obstacles as part of the gameplay and more. There are also the immersive Skype conversations one could have with people who could actually assist you virtually by giving you onscreen assistance.
Imagine you trying to help your not-so-tech-savvy dad to hook up a new PC while you’re miles away using Skype on the HoloLens. By seeing what he sees you could point out what goes where by indicating it right on his screen in real time. No more – put the blue connector with the many points into a corresponding socket at the back of the big black box – type of frustrating explanations.
Microsoft is also shouting out to the development community to come forth and multiply their apps for the device. As you know, for any new technology to survive, app developers need to be on board and so far, developers haven’t been too supportive of MS’ platforms. In his talk at the Windows 10 event, Kipman stated “Want to create a Holographic app? Easy. Developers: Windows 10 is yours.”
I see a lot of potential here. Windows 10 could change the virtual computing age completely and simultaneously boost Microsoft’s mobile and other corresponding platforms in the process. Our hearts are with you MS!