Microsoft Shows Off HoloLens Augmented Reality System

During the introduction of Windows 10, Microsoft also announced HoloLens as its take on an augmented reality headset, including several usage models in science, training, design, gaming and general use. The headset looks more like a helmet from a science fiction movie than the typical sunglasses look many other developers are going for.

Source: Microsoft 

The headset is an AR headset in the sense that it is transparent and overlays over real life objects rather than replacing reality like virtual headsets.  Microsoft promises that the final version will work via a wireless connection, even though the current prototypes are still using cables and external components, as can be seen in the next image.

Microsoft HoloLens 2Source: Microsoft

There are currently no specifications available and we have reached out to Microsoft to learn what is available at this moment in time. From the look of the prototype we would assume that specifications are not yet set in stone. On questioning Microsoft about more available information, the company responded that all it is sharing for now is what is on the website.

From the first image it appears that the headset contains an inner set of lenses that create the augmented reality image. They appear to be flat and seem to act as planar waveguides. There are also cameras visible above the display part that allows the wearer to line up the augmented reality imagery with real life objects.

Since there are two waveguides we can assume that they are providing stereoscopic imagery to the user. Microsoft is calling the created augmented reality spaces holograms and the respective technology holographic computing. Besides the ensuing argument over the definition of a holographic display, it seems that the company’s motivation is more of an association with the general public’s opinion of a hologram rather than the scientific one.

In terms of use modes, Microsoft is much more focused on inside applications in the home or office, rather than using the headset as an outside vehicle for taking pictures and video. The outside video taking was one of the biggest complaints about Google Glass and was described as ‘social awkwardness’ as the most politically correct term I could find.

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The Microsoft website dedicated to HoloLens, contains several short videos describing the potential use of the headset and shows HoloLens as the next step in computing. The company seems to address both personal as well as business use and in all fairness the provided examples are pretty awesome.  For example, the use of the headset to visualize data from Mars and create a virtual walk through space is fantastic. Of course, it learned from Google what not to say and promote to avoid the criticism Google Glass faced. Learning is good and can help augmented reality technology to become more acceptable to the consumer.

One of the key questions that Microsoft is not answering today is what this will cost. This will be one of the key facts that will define market success in the future. – Norbert Hildebrand