Virtual reality has been a hot topic lately, but what about augmented reality (AR)? Though it might not seem as new and exciting as virtual reality, it may eventually overtake it in popularity. AR has been used in sports for quite some time. Perhaps you’ve seen the football down markers or the glowing hockey pucks? More recently, Pokémon Go introduced the world to a whole new side of AR, the gaming side. Through the game’s success, more people have become interested in augmented reality’s ability to layer virtual aspects on top of our real-world views. Though the Pokémon hysteria has settled, this is just the beginning for augmented reality. Since the beginning of this year, Microsoft has been selectively releasing its new AR device, the HoloLens. This device resembles that of futuristic sunglasses, with a head-mounted display. Though it is not readily available to the mass market, it is still generating a lot of buzz. Why? Keep reading to find out.
Microsoft has been introducing its HoloLens to developers through conferences and customized experiences. By partnering with many developers, the HoloLens has become a very capable piece of augmented reality tech.
HEADSET AND CONTROLS
Applications like Project Origami, which features objects that look and behave like folded paper, show off many of the HoloLens’ key selling points, including its screen controls. A user can move and resize the “holograms” through gesture, gaze, and voice controls. All require some getting used to, but work well at accomplishing the desired action. To enhance the users’ experience, holograms get bigger and the ambient music gets louder as the user approaches the hologram to give a more complete sensory experience. The screen images are high quality as well. They are clear and realistic, but can become jittery if they are subjected to multiple actions in a short amount of time. Microsoft also tried to make sure that the headset itself did not take away from the user’s experience. The HoloLens is equipped with a comfortable and adjustable head strap. However, this does not completely counterbalance the weight of the glasses and it is still very front-heavy. Even with the weight of the headset, the HoloLens does a great job of creating a complete and enjoyable sensory experience.
In August, Microsoft announced the release of the Microsoft HoloLens Commercial Suite, which includes the Development Edition hardware, previously released to only developers, plus more commercial features that provide additional security and device management. The Commercial Suite is more geared toward companies that deal with expensive and complex tech. Some capabilities that are included in this suite are Mobile Device Management (MDM) which allows your IT department to manage multiple HoloLenses using Microsoft InTune, and work access, which allows anyone in the company to connect to the company’s network while using a HoloLens device.
Alex Kipman, a Technical Fellow at Microsoft, said that the company has been “amazed at the innovation shown by the creative people and companies building real solutions using HoloLens”. Some of the solutions that have been thought up are training car and airplane mechanics, as well as flight crews to use the HoloLens in order to maximize the training’s effectiveness. In addition to that, the HoloLens has also been used to enhance golfers’ abilities by testing a stroke’s effectiveness and comparing shot data and trends.
In order to make all of this possible and deliver such realistic and mobile imagery, the HoloLens is outfitted with a 24-core processor. This not only contributes to its high price, but also to its short battery life of approximately three hours.
Microsoft introduced the HoloLens to their developer and commercial partners earlier this year. In August it became available to all developers and businesses in the U.S. and Canada, with developers being able to purchase up to five devices. It is available on Amazon for $3,000+, but be aware that the device is not ready to be used by the general public yet. It is recommended that the average consumer wait until Microsoft releases a version meant for the public. An average consumer buying the HoloLens Development Edition could have a less than positive experience with the device since not all of the kinks have been totally worked out and the program is not meant to be used by them. As for the date when Microsoft will be releasing their HoloLens to the general public? We will just have to wait and be patient because Microsoft is keeping a tight lip on this.
– You can control the headset through gesture, gaze, and voice controls
– The battery last 3 hours
– The HoloLens Development Edition is available for $3,000+
– It’s changing the way mechanics and technicians will be trained
– It’s only meant for developers and specialized companies, in its current state.
The HoloLens is changing the way that people will view the world. Whether it’s for gaming or technical training, the Microsoft HoloLens will give people a chance to experience things in a new way that even virtual reality can’t provide.
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