Earlier in January, Microsoft launched a new platform based on the upcoming Windows 10 Operating System called HoloLens.
What is it and why is it so awesome and what is it’s potential use for the industry at large?
HoloLens itself falls into the category of “wearable computing” – it is basically a computer you wear on your head made up from most of the components you typically find in your desktop or smartphone (memory for storage, CPU, GPU, networking interfaces etc.). What makes HoloLens different (and unique) though is it’s ability to generate holograms in the wearer’s field of vision through a special lens which allows the application being run to also take advantage of the surrounding real-world environment.
Microsoft developed custom silicon for this device known as the HPU (Holographic Processing Unit) along with an SDK and suite of tools for developers to build applications to take advantage of this ground-breaking technology. The device (as Microsoft puts it) is capable of processing terabytes of data in real-time allowing a rich and imersive world where the user can interact with holographic objects in real-time. Examples might be CAD/CAM environments, 3D design, gaming all the way to our industry – marketing.
The options for augmented reality are astounding considering the capabilities of HoloLens – developers could create rich, interactive AR environments that users can literally touch and interact with effectively putting the user INTO the AR world. Marketers would have unique opportunities to leverage AR platforms and applications creating new opportunities and avenues for brand growth through imersive and entertaining ways for consumers or clients to experience.
It should be pointed out that Microsoft does consider HoloLens to be different from AR and existing VR (think Oculus Rift) technologies. So AR will be one possible experience available through the HoloLens technology, but one among many other possible experiences and possible options for developers to take advantage of.
Microsoft has not yet commited to a launch date for HoloLens or pricing, however it will be part of the Windows 10-wave of devices and products which are anticipated to start general availability around the September/October 2015 time-frame. My bet is we will start seeing HoloLens from Q2 2016 sometime.
HoloLens is massively more powerful and capable compared to what Google was originally doing with Google Glass. The devices though in my opinion aren’t targeting the same kind of usage scenarios. Google Glass for example was envisioned for use as a device you wear all day while HoloLens has a more targeted or focused usage-type scenario.
This video from the Microsoft channel gives a little more context – exciting technology!