Microsoft’s HoloLens actually could be a game changer
It seems to be the first augmented-reality device done right
Technology is advancing so fast, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to be impressed by new products.
Lots of gadgets and devices have been released recently, but most feature mere incremental changes — more pixels per inch, more vivid colors, more memory or a faster processor. All of that is great, but it seems more like an evolution than a revolution. So when a new product makes me super-excited, it means we’re talking about something really special. And the Microsoft HoloLens is special indeed. Click the link, be blown away and then continue reading.
Did you watch the video? Isn’t it amazing? Still, if you’re like me, you might be skeptical. Using CGI, the effects in the ad could be exaggerated. So you’d want to see the live demo. And be blown away again.
Microsoft MSFT, -0.34% HoloLens seems to be the first augmented-reality device done right. The 3D models it displays are crisp and vivid, and the interaction seems fluid and intuitive. The device itself looks stylish enough, although you probably won’t be wearing it outside. Most likely you’ll use it at home going about your daily business. And you won’t get tripped up because HoloLens is wireless and contains all the peripherals required for immersive use.
You may be thinking that Microsoft is playing catch-up with the HoloLens. After all, Facebook FB, -0.57% has its Oculus Rift, and Google GOOG, -0.21% Glass (which may get an overhaul soon) made headlines when it was released.
I could go on in detail about what this device is and what it can do, but I’m sure you can find out if you watch official videos and the demo from my links above. What I want to talk about, though, is the impact HoloLens could have on the consumer market and on the way we use media nowadays. What follows is based on the presumption that Microsoft’s product will turn out to be as amazing as it seems.
First, let’s talk about market disruption. HoloLens will impact multiple markets, ranging from home entertainment to mobile devices; virtually everything with a screen will likely take a cue from the technology within HoloLens. Your fridge will interface with it, showing you a see-through view of groceries, along with a visual representation of the expiration dates, and the option to “check mark” individual items and add them to your shopping list. That is, without opening the fridge.
With HoloLens, you’ll be able to change the color of your walls in seconds, and you could even have your window feature a fantasy scene, or enjoy the view of rolling Tuscan hills and the sounds of chirping birds from your tiny New York apartment.
Time for a good night story? Don the HoloLens and, instead of reading a fairy tale, witness how your child’s room transforms into an enchanted forest. Get ready for new adventures, whether you’re watching the tales of wonder and amazement unfolding before your eyes, or if you just want to play simple games like “floor is lava.”
Having friends over? Why not play an interactive board game, where you’re not glued to the screen. Instead, you can build a “Minecraft” castle on your desk, or perhaps have an epic “Warhammer 40k” battle in your living room. The possibilities are endless.
Once HoloLens lives up to the hype, I can see the form factor getting further reduced, enabling for a smaller, more compact device that could replace your smartphone and the almost-forgotten Google Glass. I could imagine other manufacturers building holographic interfaces into cars, ships and other vehicles, not unlike what I can see when playing “Elite: Dangerous.”
Office workers would enjoy a clutter-free, augmented working environment, with HoloLens giving every item the sense of spatial presence and organization.
Artists would love Microsoft’s gadget. Imagine an exhibition inside an “empty” gallery. As visitors don HoloLens, empty walls spring to life. From white walls, colors and shapes emerge, building intricate patterns and breath-taking scenes, enabling artists to share the vision and the creative process with patrons.
In schools, students would be able to assemble and deconstruct complex mechanisms, see how they work and discuss them with teachers. Teachers, in turn, could explain complex theories more easily by visualizing parameters and bringing them together with spacial mind maps.
The list goes on. Really, HoloLens has the potential to change the way we perceive the world around us, and to truly extend and augment reality. Depending on the final product and the limits of our imagination, we may reach, or even surpass, many elements of the imaginary “Star Trek” holodeck technology.
Needless to say, I will keep a close eye on HoloLens developments, and should I get an opportunity to test the device (if you’re a Microsoft representative, and you’re reading this, you know what to do), I’d gladly share my findings with you.
Jurica Dujmovic is a business publisher, consultant, designer and gamer.