Microsoft moves into virtual reality space with HoloLens
Google Glass may have been discontinued, but that does not mean that the virtual reality race is cooling down. Microsoft is the latest entrant with HoloLens, a head mounted holograph projecting computer that is not just going to immerse users in virtual reality but augment their surroundings to give an enhanced level of functionality.
Still in the prototype stage and codenamed Project Baraboo, the product is the brainchild of Alex Kipman from Microsoft. Kipman previously pitched and pushed the idea for what eventually became the highly successful Microsoft Kinect, the impact of which on the professional AV industry is still unfolding. He has been working on the HoloLens for five years.
The head mounted device is fitted with an on board CPU, GPU and HPU (holographic processing unit). Images can be seen by the user as per normal and holograms are made possible by light projected into the wearer’s eyes by the HoloLens itself (a process which Microsoft states is completely harmless). The head mounted device has a camera to track objects and surroundings. This ensures that the holograms fit properly into the environment.
The HoloLens is also capable of tracking the user’s movements with an array of sensors. This makes gesture control possible. At the present stage, HoloLens only supports one touch gesture in the form of a mid-air click when a pinching motion is made with the thumb and forefinger. A whole range of voice and gesture controls are expected to be implemented for the final product. Developers can expect to get their hands on a model this spring.
Microsoft has showcased applications of the HoloLens where the head mounted device is used to simulate the environment of Mars. As with any immersive display device, the HoloLens seems to be suited for remote collaboration. It may also be applied for visualization and imaging on a personal basis.