Microsoft Unveils The Hololens
Microsoft’s Hololens is an odd contraption. It sits somewhere between the Oculus Rift and Google Glass, overlaying 3D images onto the real world in the most ambitious Augmented Reality (AR) project to date. The Hololens will run about $400 USD retail and it is meant to go on sale sometime around the launch period of Windows 10, making it a “crucible” for Nadella’s new concept of a borderless Windows ecosystem. And while Microsoft is making a push to re-enter the mass market, it is important to remember that Microsoft is a business with many components and while the Hololens has a distinct video game flavor to it, I doubt that this summer’s early buyers will come from that side of Microsoft’s business. It is difficult to pinpoint what other business uses for the Hololens would be and that’s what might scare people off with the $400+ price tag. The most obvious use is propbably Skype, another Microsoft company. Imagine something like a scene in Kingsman: The Secret Service, where you sit at an empty conference table and put on your Hololens to populate the chairs with meeting attendees from anywhere in the world. People have already talked about VR for virtual conferences, but Hololens’ ability to up the immersion by using your real surroundings seems more promising. I’d also expect this to be very useful in design and manufacturing, allowing workers and artists to match real materials to their virtual presences.
Hololens could, potentially, function like a business-first concept like Google Glass had promised it would be. You can imagine the same sort of on-screen directions, emails, notifications and the like, just augmented a little bit.
We often think about AR and VR in the same breath (they both, for example, end in “R”), but where the likes of Oculus and Sony are clearly aiming directly at the mass market first, I don’t think this is how Microsoft is going to approach the Hololens. We’re excited to see what happens when the tech eventually gets cheap enough to start selling it to everyday consumers, though. There’s no mistaking that eventual goal in the demo video above, but one wonders how long it will take to actually get there.