HoloLens is Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, a self-contained Windows 10 device that features Windows Holographic allowing for mixed reality experiences combining real-world and virtual elements together. I had the opportunity to try it out recently and found the experience interesting – it’s a completely new way of computer interaction. It allows pinning of existing Universal Windows Platform apps virtually to walls within a real space plus bringing 3D elements into that environment in a way that I’ve never experienced before. It’s a surprisingly light device to wear although the large forward section seems bulky it doesn’t feel like that when worn and interacting with it using gestures although takes a bit of getting used to it never feels encumbering but instead allows a freedom of interaction unlike any other Windows 10 device I’ve used!
HoloLens is the first fully untethered holographic computer running Windows 10, featuring a variety of specialized components such as the optical system that works in lock-step with the advanced sensors, the holographic processing unit that makes light work of large amounts of data per second and features see-through holographic high-definition lenses enable you to see holograms right in your world employing an advanced optical projection system, the see-through lenses generate multi-dimensional full-colour images with very low-latency. HoloLens also features spatial sound so you can hear holograms even when they’re behind you and advanced sensors capture information about what you’re doing and the environment you’re in, this is done through the inertial measurement unit (IMU) which includes an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. In addition to the IMU, HoloLens comes with a CPU and GPU plus a whole new category of processor – the Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) which gives HoloLens the real-time ability to understand where you’re looking, to understand your gestures, and to spatially map the world around you.
HoloLens demonstrates a new paradigm of human computer interaction, although it is a premium mixed reality experience itself, it allows a glimpse into this device category which will so be added to with more affordable devices supporting many of the same features. HoloLens is a showcase of what’s possible with augmented reality and the power of holograms, bringing the real and virtual worlds together in a way that’s never been done before. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences powered by Windows Holographic are coming from many companies at many prices points to affordable headsets to premium hardware, Microsoft can really carve a niche for themselves providing the software needed for virtual and augmented reality headsets and in the months and years to come these will become more common and popular way of human computer interaction and certainly something to look forward to now and beyond!
Originally Published 24th January 2017