Microsoft’s vision of virtual reality wearables is a lot more exciting than everyone else’s


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Microsoft just wrapped up their big Windows 10 event, and the last announcement coming out of the sea of Windows 10 news was HoloLens. Has a cool name, but what is it? It’s Microsoft’s vision for a virtual, augmented reality.

Whereas folks like Samsung, Oculus Rift and Razer want to insert you into a virtual world detached from the one in which you physically exist, Microsoft’s instead looking to utilize the beautiful world you already have around you. HoloLens is a wearable that goes over your eyes, but it features a transparent holographic display that can project “holograms,” if you will, onto the surfaces and areas around you.

The core concept of augmenting the world in front of you with digital props, information and tools is nothing new — augmented reality has been a thing for years — but merging that with a wearable form factor and the best of what virtual reality has thus far offered is what gets us really excited.

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HoloLens will house all of its computing components on the headset itself, so as long as you have a charged battery you can use this thing independent of any cable connections or the use of a secondary device (like having to insert the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 into the Samsung Gear VR).

Microsoft’s cool examples included the transformation of an ordinary wall into a huge Netflix-playing television, or using your empty desk space to spray paint a virtual rocket ship model. There’s only one unfortunate caveat: these were just examples and concepts, and not necessarily proof of what Microsoft has been able to achieve in the project’s early going.

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But that’s what today’s revelation was all about — they have shown us their vision of the future, and they’ve shown that they’re willing to do everything to get there. They want this thing to become your next PC (though considering even tablets haven’t been able to fully replace traditional computers yet we doubt that’ll happen for a very long time).

And it’s not like they aren’t equipped to go the distance. Microsoft has done a lot of research in 3D mapping and virtual interaction, namely thanks to their Kinect camera peripheral that started on the Xbox 360 and evolved with the Xbox One. They’re experienced, folks, and they’re looking to use everything they’ve learned to this point to deliver something truly exciting.

Microsoft says they’ll have an actual model ready for consumption right around the time they’re ready to ship Windows 10, which we understand could be any time before the summer months of 2015 cool off.

It’ll likely stumble in the early going and prove to be less exciting than Microsoft’s initial ambitions, but with time this could become the first wearable that really helps move virtual reality a step forward. Let’s hope everyone else is taking just as much notice as we have.

[Images courtesy of Gizmodo]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Enfin de l’innovation

  2. Not interested in concepts, prove you can do it, and do it well.

    1. They just sent demos out after the presentation. I say they did it well.

      There’s always room for improvements.

      1. The article said they will have a working model by the release of W10, where did you see that they sent out demos?

        1. This tech has A LONG way to go

  3. I can’t believe for the first time I got excited about a Microsoft press conference. This blows any other AR or VR gadget out of the water.

    Let’s see how Google will react to this with the recent failure of Glass passing over.

    1. Google has already invested heavily in AR with Magic Leap. Also Google got as big as they did by being bold, and part of that is risking failure. Any tech company that doesn’t know how to fail and rapidly move on to the next iteration doesn’t get very far.

  4. Here’s the prove with this technology on live demo.

    1. A blue screen of death would have been SO awesome at about 1:45

    2. That voice… it’s like nails on a chalk board to me.
      Other than that, I will be curious how this translates to gaming. I don’t want to use glasses for casual use scenarios, but maybe other’s will.

  5. playing mine right now……….but seriously, this is pretty awesome. I’m with Abby below…I’ve never been stoked about a MS Press conf before =) hope they get this done right

    1. Where is Michael Douglas?

      1. haha

  6. It’ll be interesting to see how it handles depth of on screen vs real. If I’m watching netflix on my wall and my wife walks in front of me, will it look like it’s projected behind her? If not, it’ll completely ruin the effect of 3D. Similarly with interaction with my hand, if it can’t accurately mimic depth behind my hands, the effect won’t work. It’s going to have to be very very good to be good at all.

  7. I can understand people believing this is better than any other AR device out there, but I fail to see how this is cooler than the VR stuff like Occulus or Morpheus. The two classes are completely different with different purposes. One virtually enhances the environment around you. The other puts you in a completely new virtual environment. Both are cool, but I’d much rather have a good VR system over an AR system. I mean there is plenty you can do with a VR system you can’t do with an AR system. There isn’t much in the reverse of that.

    1. Totally agree…how long until the novelty wears off and you get tired of looking at holograms over the same boring old living room setting. Gaming for me is about transporting me to another place, not about making the one I’m in look more high-tech. If Google Glass had so many issues its already been pretty much put out to pasture, this just seems like its too little too late if its priced at anything over a hundred bucks.

      1. Yep, pricing is the key. And I wouldn’t even say this is flat out better than Google Glass. They have different purposes. It’s like comparing a laptop to a mobile phone.

        1. Well from what I could gather off of its initial premise it’s Google glass w/ a bit more extensive AR added in, most likely similar tech to things Google were trying out. As far as form factor I definitely get that analogy, but doesn’t it seem like that’s where the future of the product is trying to go? I had read somewhere that they were working on making the wearable tech smaller & less obtrusive. As it stands I guess its meant to be tethered to your living room in this iteration?

          1. That’s what I’m thinking too. Now if they get this down to a form factor more like normal glasses, then they’d really have something interesting. As it is, it would be cool for paintballing. lol With the right app, it would basically be like having a real FPS Hub.

      2. If all you can think of is gaming then MS’ offer is not for you. I, on the other hand, don’t want to turn into a pile of mush strapped to a chair with a helmet on it’s head, and would much prefer convenience of augmented reality. When MS’ Holobands become as light as glasses then I can wear it all day going about my regular life.

        1. Yeah the difference is you are talking about a potential future that may never come. I’m just judging it by its initial form factor that is right in front of us, and I don’t think many people would want to be caught dead in public wearing something like that. Hell, Google Glass was as unobtrusive as possible when it comes to wearables & look at all the social issues those early adopters had to deal w/. I spend around an hour or two on the couch each day (far from pile of mush status) & I’d like to immerse myself & enjoy that time, the rest of the day I’m active & I’d rather be paying attention to the beauty of my true surroundings & the interesting people inhabiting them w/o having some weird virtual overlay on top. Its a Microsoft product as well, so how long until we get targeted ads & obtrusive pop ups in our vision at inopportune times? You are right about one thing, this offer is most definitely not for me.

          1. Agreed. This device falls in a weird space. It has more functionality than Google Glass, but it’s not exactly something you just want to be walking around outside with. It gives you more freedom than a VR set at the expense of pretty much all the capabilities that make VR interesting.

            All that said, I still think this is a cool piece of tech. I just reject the idea that it’s more exciting than everything else.

    2. AR has a lot more practical applications than VR, not just gaming that’s what was so great about Microsoft’s demonstrations of the technology today. It also makes a ton of sense as to why they picked up the Minecraft IP as it looks like they’re going to be presenting that as their killer AR game app.

      1. I disagree. There are some things that would probably be better with AR than VR, but most of the practical applications for AR can be done with VR too. VR isn’t just about gaming either. Don’t forget NASA IDA using Morpheus for a project and with Facebook buying Occulus, you can bet they are thinking about more than just gaming.

        1. I disagree. When you have kids, you’ll understand.

          1. I have a daughter, and if you think that VR doesn’t have applications with children, I’m guessing you’ve never actually experienced VR. Both technologies have a lot of upside and depend greatly on innovation. I’m not saying this won’t be a good device, I just don’t see where it’s more exciting or even comparable to the VR headsets.

  8. As if anyone will seriously want to virtually project an image to use this to watch a movie / play a videogame.. Not gonna happen.. Its just a gimmick..

    Microsoft needs to forget about VR / Bing Search and everything else that either wastes their resources or burns their money.

    They need to streamline their business and focus on their OS to become as popular and widespread as it once was. Apple has been chomping away at their market share for years and Chromebooks have come out of nowhere to start dominating the value conscious consumer who only desires basic functionality.

    1. It’s amazing MS haven’t hired such an armchair genius so far! WOW! Mr. Smarts!

      I feel with you in charge of MS, their $7Billion quarterly profit would be turned into 1 Trillion!


    2. lol you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    3. Bing is doing quite well actually. It might be a “joke” on the Internet but it does quite well as a search engine.

  9. More like phanboid.

    – AR and VR are so different it’s not even funny
    – Oculus can do AR now that it’s getting equipped with cameras
    – Both are super exciting in different ways

    What a desperate attempt to attack other completely different products now that MS has finally announced this and allowed fans to join in on the fun. You may as well have said your first pair of prescription glasses are more exciting than Oculus for all the sense this makes.

    1. Precisely. The writer makes an ignorant and invalid comparison. They accomplish the task of correctly identifying MS’s project as AG, but then go and make laughable comparisons to VR. Unless HoloLens can completely black out my real world view and then transport me to being in the audience front-row at a concert or sporting event, then there is no competition between HoloLens, the Rift and Gear, or Morpheus. Frankly, it’s a bit obvious Quentyn has not spent any time in Gear VR or he would have more respect for what attaching a Note 4 to a visor is capable of. The software that comes with it accomplishes the task of explaining to folks like him (and others commenting here that echo similar ignorance in VR) just what VR can do beyond gaming. You would think such applications for VR would be obvious to tech freaks, but I’ve learned over time that many of them simply have to be spoon fed before they get it.

  10. LOL at the guys wig, funny how tech companies try to make their old employees look hip

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