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Microsoft's HoloLens Looks More Promising Than VR, but May Be Ahead of Its Time


Microsoft's HoloLens Looks More Promising Than VR, but May Be Ahead of Its Time

Enter the Matrix.

If you haven’t heard of Microsoft’s HoloLens, it might be time to learn up. HoloLens is a next-gen augmented reality headset, with the potential to surpass already impressive virtual reality technology such as the Oculus Rift.

Microsoft HoloLens will have Kinect 2.0 and infrared for its sensors. The head gear is also wireless which makes the VR experience more seamless. Inside Microsoft HoloLens is threes processors but one that’s most notable is the first every HPU or Holographic Processing Unit, which is in charge of the headgear’s holograms.

The Holographic headgear will also have a RealSense gesture control mechanics for a handsfree interacting with tablets. Microsoft HoloLens also has Intel’s WiDi Technology which allows users to stream movies, games and different apps.

Last but definitely not the least; Microsoft HoloLens has a game/app called ‘HoloStudio’. HoloStudio will allow you to interact and create 3D objects and you can knock holes in walls to unveil new digital environments. It’s like minecraft, only 3D; if that was not enough you can also print your 3D creation through a 3D printer. – CrossMap

If the final product fits this bill, this won’t be just another silly gimmick. It has the potential to revolutionize the gaming industry as we know it. We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of the current-gen consoles, so it’s understandable if you haven’t put much thought into how the new dynamics of next-gen hardware will change the gaming industry.

However if you keep up to date on gaming news, there’s a good chance that you’ve at least heard whispers of trendy buzzwords such as virtual reality, augmented reality, Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus. If not, then you should prepare yourself. The next generation of gaming consoles and hardware have the potential to shatter the foundations of reality.

There are two distinct directions into which next-gen gaming hardware could explore. The first of which is virtual reality. This is the platform that will be used with technology such as the Oculus Rift and PlayStation’s Project Morpheus. Think of a more primitive version of the virtual reality seen in the popular  James Cameron movie, Avatar, where humans assume the bodies of the Na’vi. Virtual reality seeks to take your mind, remove it from your current body of existence, and place it into the vessel of a dynamic protagonist in a new, foreign, and exciting landscape.

We aren’t totally there yet though. For now, virtual reality is primarily just a visual experience. But with technology such as the Virtuix Omni that allows a player to run and move on a platform that will command your  game character to mimic your every motion, we can see that the Avatar experience may not be as far off as we think.

Virtuix Omni

The other similar, but distinct and different path is augmented reality. Where virtual reality, similar to current video games, brings you into a fictional virtual world, augmented reality alters your everyday interactions with the world around you. In a recent interview, HoloLens executive Kudo Tsunoda mentioned, “The thing that HoloLens does is allow you to blend your digital world with your real world.” Augmented reality and HoloLens is more akin to wearables such as Google Glass than the Oculus Rift.

Seems cool, but the Google Glass beta received a surprising amount of backlash when it was unleashed back in 2013. The story of 23 year old  Google Glass beta tester Jonathan Gottfried is a cautionary tale. When he first donned the glasses he quickly became an overnight superstar, receiving and loving a tremendous influx of attention. But that got old fast. It eventually became a major inconvenience when he was frequently “swarmed” in public by strangers with questions. One man who apparently knew the product’s value accosted Gottfried and stole the Google Glass right from his face. Because of the public commotion, some restaurants and stores were refusing to allow people wearing glass to enter their establishments. Eventually Google Glass wearers earned the unfortunate nickname of “Google Glassholes.”

augmented reality

Blame it on security concerns or blame it on being too futuristic, Gottfried’s Google Glass story shows that we may not be ready for augmented reality. For augmented reality to succeed, it needs cameras to render the world around you into a form that can be blended with its digital media. However, a lot of people don’t want those cameras pointed at them. They don’t want to feel as though their every word or action is being recorded. The stigma is real. But will it last? Despite the poor fashion/social statement that the pioneers of Google Glass may have made, we cannot ignore the positive potential of augmented reality technology.

In the same interview quoted previously, Tsunoda mentions that the HoloLens is a, “compelling thing for being able to teach people skills, and allowing them to collaborate in ways they couldn’t do before.” Just imagine, what if you didn’t need to hire a plumber to fix your sink? What if an augmented reality tutorial just projected itself onto your sink, showing you step-by-step exactly how to do every single task. It could scan your work to ensure that you have properly performed the instructions and give you tips to fix it if otherwise. What about driving? No more looking down at the map on your phone, instead the arrows could project right onto the road.

Minecraft HoloLens

For games?  There are endless possibilities. Personally I’d be excited for even just an augmented reality Fruit Ninja.  But that would be one of the system’s most basic applications. Remember when you were a little kid and you used to play that old game called, “The floor is lava?” With augmented reality, we will have the capability to project the wildest contents of our imaginations onto the world around us. What about a real game like Forza or Need for Speed? The system could potentially project an entire racetrack that appears to fit around your couch. One game app that has been confirmed as in production for the HoloLens is Minecraft. How about playing that in your living room? While not many games have been officially confirmed for the HoloLens, Xbox executive Phil Spencer is confident that, “”Gaming and entertainment is going to be critical,” (TheVerge). It may all seem like wild dreams, but it’s not far fetched to think that we’ll get there, and it will be sooner rather than later.

So what do you think? Are we ready for Microsoft’s HoloLens? Will we ever embrace its potential positive benefits? Or do we stop this now before the robots take over? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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