Virtual reality headsets are most commonly used by gamers to create a more immersive gaming experience by looking at screens on the inside of the headset that fill the full field of view, making it seem as though users are in the native world of the game. This combines with motion sensors that detect the wearer’s movements and uses them to create realistic gameplay.
However, this could all be about to change with the launch of Microsoft’s own VR headset, the Hololens, which uses a combination of virtual reality and holograms to change your perspective and the way you interact with software. The combination of Microsoft’s ‘holographic computing program’ and Windows 10 makes the Hololens an interesting new gadget that is much less novel than it may sound.
The Microsoft Hololens blends holograms and reality, intelligently mapping a room and enabling digital content to become physical objects that combine with the furniture and architecture of the space. Microsoft says it goes ‘beyond augmented reality and virtual reality’ by providing high definition three dimensional holograms that have a transparency which allows you to see real objects and move around easily. You can pin holograms to objects in the environment around you so that your world becomes a canvas. Hololens also tracks your vision so it knows where your eyes are looking and can project shapes accordingly.
The headset itself is cordless and has a transparent lens so you can see more of your environment, plus spacial sound so you can hear the holograms around you. With this lightweight headset there are no headaches or nausea that can come from other types of VR headsets or glasses for 3D TVs. Included in the headset are a 1080p colour camera, infrared sensor and WiDi technology for streaming apps and movies.
You can shape and design the holograms, interact with them, move them and change perspectives by using RealSense gesture control and your voice. In a work setting, this will allow you to present your ideas in a totally new way and to make more intelligent decisions about your work, having literally viewed the idea from new angles. This will be especially great for those who work with graphics, especially in fields such as design and architecture where 2D drawings will become 3D structures in the real world. You’ll be able to visualise the design physically before any details are finalised, then partner with a colleague so that you can work on projects together.
The collaboration portion of the Hololens is one that will integrate well into the workplace, especially for teams that spend time working apart from each other. Through the Skype app, your colleagues will be able to see what you see and even view holograms from your perspective. If they don’t have a Hololens they can still use the notes portion of Skype to create annotations that blend right into your new reality.
This would be very useful for training, allowing trainers to teach visually from anywhere in the world and trainees to work in a virtual world that mimics a new environment but has the safety of being artificial.
The Hololens is not just an appropriate tool for work, as it can have many uses at home for entertainment and practicality. For example, Skype calls to friends could have them practically sitting in front of you, checking social media will unveil 3D streams of statuses that you can interact with, and following a recipe will enable you to see the needed ingredients right there on the table in front of you.
In addition, The HoloStudio software will enable you to manipulate physical objects and turn personal hologram creations into real touchable objects through compatibility with 3D printing.
The Microsoft Hololens is a step further than anyone else has dared to go with a virtual or augmented reality headset and it isn’t just because Microsoft has such a big budget, but because they’ve seen real promise and potential in the idea of holograms merging with our everyday lives. Press coverge is mounting for the new gadget and after its release both individuals and businesses will find innovative ways to make use of the Hololens’ capabilities.
Full release date and price are yet to be announced but the Microsoft Hololens is likely to be available for purchase before the end of 2015.