Last week’s Windows 10 event from Microsoft was all about Windows 10, wasn’t it? Wrong. In fact, Microsoft shocked the world by unveiling a new holographic device which it claims will be “the next PC,” revolutionising the way we interact with digital content – but you wear it on your face rather than hold it in your hands or have it on your desktop.
The headset, which the computer giant has been secretly developing for several years, is called the HoloLens and is scheduled to be released within the Windows 10 “timeframe.” And it really does appear to seamlessly blend the physical world with the digital dimension, populating your living room with digitally-created holographic entities that can only be seen by donning the HoloLens.
The device comes complete with its own GPU and CPU in addition to its unique “Holographic Processing Unit” which has been specially designed for this new form of computing. It resembles Google Glass by having transparent hardware (unlike the black box of the Oculus Rift) so that you get a live view of the physical environment, and it’s comparable in the quality of its 3D graphics to the Sulon Cortex (which lacks the transparent visor).
Windows 10 will contain holographic capabilities and the headset will lean on these, allowing you to flip through holographically-rendered content and move it around, not unlike Tom Cruise in Minority Report, as this video shows:
For the demo at the Windows 10 event, Microsoft brought its executive, Terry Myerson, on stage in the form of a hologram, whereupon he uttered the historic words, “I’m a freakin’ hologram!”
The primary selling point of the new device is its promise of interactive virtual presence but there are other obvious advantages that could well be developed, including collaborative research, remote collaboration, engineering and design (it makes a PowerPoint display look positively prehistoric).
It’s unclear what the take-up will be at this stage. Google Glass hasn’t set the consumer world ablaze, but then Google appeared a little unclear about what it was for. Microsoft seems to have a more focused vision: it’s a tool for enhancing the engineering and design experience, it lets people meet virtually as if they were in the same room – and it’s got some potentially stunning, fully-immersive and incredibly advanced gaming potential.
This little gizmo might go far.