Microsoft
Virtuality

Microsoft’s HoloLens Demos Are Finally Here

Jolene CreightonDecember 18th 2015
Meet the HoloLens

The HoloLens headset was developed by Microsoft. It is the world’s first untethered wearable that is able to generates holograms right before your eyes. CEO Satya Nadella previously stated that they would have the tech released in the “Windows 10 timeframe,” which (if you ask me) is a terribly vague timeline.

But its finally here. Well, it’s here for some of us.

Starting yesterday, Microsoft began to allow developers to head to their flagship store in the Big Apple (NYC) to try out some demos. Not in the NYC area? Fear not. Ultimately, the company is allowing a number of individuals to demo the HoloLens at a location that is (hopefully) near you. The full list of cities and dates can be found here.

As you may have guessed, the HoloLens isn’t like operating a traditional computer, gaming device, or anything else, really.  In this device, the “cursor” is your eyes. If that sounds rather futuristic, it’s because it is. In order to work, you  simply look around the room. As your eyes wander, you can select specific holographic images that appear will in your goggles by hovering the cursor in the middle of your field of vision over the object.

So how do you “click” like you would on a traditional computer? By using “air tap.”

To interact with the object, you point your index finger in the air and make a fast motion like you are swiping down. You can also use voice commands in order to use the device.

Image credit: Microsoft HoloLens
Image credit: Microsoft HoloLens
So What’s It Like?

One of the biggest drawbacks to the tech is that you are only able to see holograms right where you are looking. In other words, it has a rather narrow field of view. The device’s field of view is limited to about 40º as opposed to a full field of view that usually comes with virtual reality.

And this is the key difference between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). In the former, you are totally immersed in another world. In the latter, your surroundings are slightly modified—augmented.

However, this isn’t necessarily an issue, depending of what you are planning on using the HoloLense for. Indeed, when looking at AR and VR, each has it place.

Microsoft says that there are a variety of potential applications, and the current demos range from everything from gaming to PowerPoint presentations. Admittedly, a PowerPoint may not be the most obvious use for such high tech, but imagine doing away with the dry and boring slideshows and replacing them with things that are truly interactive. It would certainly be a step in the right direction, if nothing else.

The Microsoft demo of the presentations reveals that you are able to get information depending on what you are focusing on.And of course, individuals are able to interact with what they are presented with. So it’s more than just a person standing and speaking at an audience while the audience sits quietly and listens.

Image Credit: Microsoft HoloLense
Image Credit: Microsoft HoloLense

But if you are thinking about rushing out and buying one for yourself, you may need to hold on for just a bit longer. First, the HoloLens is only going to be available to developers and commercial buyers in North America, and it will run with a price tag of $3,000 for each device. That’s certainly not something that your average individual can afford.

Second, it is only going to be available during the first quarter of 2016, so it’ll be a while before it’s even available to your everyday consumer. But, the HoloLense is here in working order, which is something to be excited about all the same, as it holds great promise for the future.

 

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