Thanks to the people at Datacom some people were able to get a tech demo of the very new Microsoft HoloLens. They played with other virtual reality headsets but this was the first that was augmented reality. Which means you’re seeing the real world environment but with computer generated 3D holograms that have been overlaid on top. It’s truly freaky.
The headset itself has fantastic build quality and is surprisingly light considering it’s a full blown PC with great speakers and dozens of sensors strapped to your head. The headset somehow maps the room and understands where the walls, ceiling, tables and chairs are. Now you can place, float or stick holograms anywhere. Because HoloLens runs windows 10 people were able to place a 100 inch Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on the wall. Also put the M2 website on the dining table. I played a video on the far wall.
The HoloLens remembers the locations so when I come back they will still be there waiting for me. That’s just nuts! I can only imagine in 10 years’ time we won’t have TV’s anymore. We’ll just put on some glasses/contact lenses and stick a 100 inch TV somewhere. Seeing these holographic elements added to your furniture and walls makes it feel that much more real. That was flat objects ticked off so I placed a life sized virtual car in front of me. It didn’t look like a real car more like a car from a video game but to be able to walk around it fully tricks your mind into thinking it really is there. Unfortunately people weren’t able to just use their hands on the handle to open the door. Instead they had to use the voice command “open doors” but still…wow. It felt like they were in the beta version of Minority Report.
If you’re not using voice commands to control HoloLens you can use a one-fingered swipe in front of your face. It was a bit rough but maybe it needs getting used to the controls. People also played games. UFO’s smashed through the wall and started shooting at them. As they tried to shoot them with my one finger swipe they would fly away and circle me. The sound got louder as it approached a UFO and faded as it moved away. It added another dimension to the HoloLens experience, making it that much more immersive.
The only thing that really disappointed was the field of view. Draw an imaginary square roughly 40cm’s by 40cm’s that is arm’s length away from your face. That’s where you can see the holograms so if I move my head the objects disappear. Seeing distance is fine but when they got close to the car half the car just disappeared. HoloLens software and hardware is not perfect but if Microsoft can keep on pushing this forward it’s going to be a world changer for all sorts of different applications that I can’t even imagine.