By George Rosenthal
Microsoft is busily creating what they hope will be the next big thing in a virtual reality type product called HoloLens.
Designed for gamers and others who enjoy a 3-D experience it’s something like virtual reality (VR) but different, more like augmented reality.
The platform is based on computer generated “holograms” with a virtual projection. The holograms look and act like they are part of the real world.
Microsoft, according to their website, says you can pin holograms in physical locations as easily as you would place a physical object in a room. You can interact with the holograms and physical objects together.
This technology is all packed into a headset that looks like a large visor. It is untethered and functions as a standalone Windows 10 computer. Everything is wireless and self-contained.
Reports are it weighs less than one pound and is very comfortable. The headset is different than wearing a pair of glasses. It has a halo-like headband that supports all the weight. The bridge of the glasses rest on the bridge of your nose.
The fit can be adjusted with the headband and the small knob on the back. You can also pull your display away from your face to get a view that is most comfortable.
If you wear glasses there is no problem. You can place the headset over them, and the same holds true with a ponytail, and you won’t compromise performance.
Microsoft says there will be no mouse to point or screen to touch. You will be able to create holograms with gestures. You will able to use these gestures, with your voice and gaze to interact with the device.
HoloLens will enable you to showcase your designs as you collaborate remotely. There will be a HoloNotes app for Skype so viewers can see your environment and make adjustments to your holograms.
Those looking for a realty wide screen of view however won’t find it with HoloLens. The “holographics” are confined to a box in front of your face. The computer-generated portions of the scene can be enlarged by taking a few steps back though the Holograms won’t show up in your peripheral vision.
One tester enjoyed the potential of the gaming experience as laser beams and other similar effects streaked past his head.
Businesses could someday use it as a presentation tool. It could act as a virtual teleprompter right in front of you. No matter where you gaze it could pinpoint exactly what your audience sees during a presentation. It totally changes how you would look at the usual PowerPoint slide deck.
Microsoft is hoping HoloLens will make the process of designing and printing 3-D objects a snap. This could help push that technology further into the mainstream.
Testers say the coolest feature may be the ability to shrink a virtual object, play with it, copy and clone portions of it as you would a Photoshop image, and then make it spring back to its original size simply by saying “actual size.”
For now everything remains proof-of-concept. Microsoft is trying to get developers on board to develop more applications. A “developer kit” is being shipped the first quarter of 2016 and a public version should be available later this year.
Keep in mind that HoloLens is being termed as “augmented reality” not virtual reality. Those who desire the VR experience will need to opt for Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard or other product.
Still HoloLens has much promise and could provide a new dimension for both personal and business use. Once fully developed it could provide a wide array of options to not only enhance the gaming experience but offer product developers from all industries a chance to view their work in a new way that is more efficient and more cost effective.