Microsoft’s HoloLens is finally here, and so is the future. The HoloLens is an augmented reality headset that has been in the works for some time. It is a standalone headset that requires no connection to a computer, tablet or phone. No wires ever connecting you to anything keep you on the move at all times for a true untethered working experience. Although the headset is geared towards developers, it is available to anyone (with $3,000 to spend).
Microsoft, for the most part, has stayed out of the big scene when it comes to augmented reality AR and virtual reality VR for some time now. The very first pitch for the HoloLens was rumored to be in 2007, although that is not confirmed. It is confirmed, however, that they began working on it in 2010, leading to the announcement in 2015. The codename for the HoloLens was “Project Baraboo” and was being developed for some time before the name was even given to it, and presented to the mobile world congress.
The look of the HoloLens is much different than most AR or VR headsets. In fact, when you look at the HoloLens, you get the feeling that this headset will take you on a ride that most cant. The HoloLens name is not empty. This headset gives you a holographic experience wherever you are in the world. The US Army has utilized the HoloLens across the world, simulating training and combat. The Army paid $480 million for the chance to use these headsets on a large scale.
How does HoloLens work?
The HoloLens seems nearly magical, and that is exactly what it is. The headset uses a unique combination of see-through holographic lenses, a plethora of sensors that each have their own job, waveguides, and plenty of processing hardware and software that is strong enough to understand your gaze, voice, and even your surroundings at all times.
The top part of the headset is covered in the aforementioned sensors and plenty of cameras. That takes care of all of the information gathering at all times. The two cameras on either side of the headset are constantly scanning your surroundings making sure that your holographic images are not showing up inside of the middle of your coffee table.
The HoloLens is able to run Windows 10. That adds this headset to the list of devices now able to run the optimizing Windows 10. That essentially means you will be wearing a full computer on your head with the HoloLens. Not only does this AR headset have the ability to develop AR apps, but it can run any function a computer can run at any time as well. This is Microsoft’s most powerful headset by all measures. Mixed reality headsets do not compare.
The visuals are slightly different than you would expect. Mots, if not all, virtual headsets use a pixel count to measure the power of the display. The HoloLens takes a different route. They are counting light points to enhance the resolution and the light points per radian for density. This means that the more light points you have inside of a display point, the more rich and dense it will be. Nearly the same as pixels, but these light points are being projected. Each update that the HoloLens is receiving, it seems as though the display gets more and more sharp.
This is only the first consumer generation of the HoloLens, so as you would expect, all of the following models will be much improved. In these next models we can expect a larger field of view. That has been one of the only complaints from consumers and developers so far. Although it doesn’t necessarily stop you from having a good experience, in future models we expect this to improve.
What can HoloLens do?
The HoloLens is more versatile and powerful than any Microsoft headsets from the past. The headset is essentially a holographic computer on your head that allows you to to interact with, listen to, speak to with voice commands, and make holograms in any given room or space.
We could make a running list of the things the HoloLens can perform, but we will make it much more simple for you. Anything that you could do on computer running Windows 10, you can do inside of the headset. That includes many games, videos, video streaming services, and basic web surfing. Mobile Devices can also be paired with the Hololens.
That is just the basic functions the HoloLens can perform. This headset will constantly be projecting 3D holographic images in front of you. You will be able to make your own 3D models to interact with, make projects with other people wearing a headset, play games like Minecraft, and even Skype video chat with hologram versions of people you are calling. Not only are these options fascinating and practical, but very fun. Microsoft is also partnering with many different companies to get the most out of their new headset, inculuding mutliple options for an app store, and optimizing the unreal engine.
Volvo is expected to bring their cars to a virtual show room for the HoloLens. NASA is expected to train new employees and explore using the headset. The US Army has already integrated the new Microsoft headset into everyday training and decision making all across the world. There is no shortage of companies looking to use the HoloLens to make their business better. As the technology improves inside and outside of the headset, we can expect to see many more tech companies get involved.
Who can use HoloLens?
Currently anyone is allowed to buy the Microsoft HoloLens. Before this year, it was only available to developers and certain business. The HoloLens is now available to anyone with the money to buy it. The cost is $3,000. In some European countries, the headset is available to lease on a month to month basis. When he first prototype was released in 2016, it was nearly impossible to get your hands on it. Now in early 2019, there are over 50 places in the U.S. alone to demo the device. During the demo, you will be using a clicker rather than voice commands and gesture recognition.
Buying a HoloLens without a purpose may not be a smart decision. With many companies integrating the new technology into their everyday work, there is not much for a kid at home to use with it yet. With aforementioned Minecraft already in the mix already as a game, there isn’t too much to play.
The HoloLens team is said to be working with Xbox tor produce games, but nothing near the power of the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift. This will never be a devoted gaming headset, and the games will reflect that. The games set to be released within the next year are pretty simple and to the surface. That makes this headset more attractive to the common business man than the gamers looking for a heavy duty headset. The user interface itslef is hard enough to use for developers.
Where can I buy HoloLens?
On the official Microsoft website you can see where the locations of the stores are that you can buy the HoloLens. Each state has at least a couple of locations to demo and to buy. The headsets have to be ordered ahead of time, but usually can be bought with walk-ins. You can also order the headset online and have it directly shipped to your business or house.
The only place you can officially buy a HoloLens is Microsoft and Amazon. Do note that this device is not eligible for refunds, and there is no going back after you agree to pay the $3000 price tag. There is no warrantees available for this headset, and users are advised to keep the headset away from anyone below the age of 13.
Can HoloLens Do VR?
As of right now, the HoloLens cannot do full immersive virtual reality. The headset is limited to the augmented reality and the holographic images it produces. It was mentioned before that this headset is not going to be like the Vive and the Rift in the sense of gaming. There is no app store like that for this AR headset. The HoloLens has many features that those other headsets do not possess, making it perfect for its intended purposes. Microsoft has done a great job not trying to go beyond the limits of augmented reality. The clicker that is included is not meant to be a controller for virtual reality.
In many ways augmented reality and virtual reality work hand-in-hand. The technology inside of these headsets are nearly the same, but yet so far apart in many different ways. I’m sure the HoloLens team could find a way to make this headset a virtual reality headset inside of an augmented reality headset, but that doesn’t seem to be on their to do list anytime soon. The HoloLens is amazing at performing the tasks it was designed for.
How to develop with HoloLens?
There are many different ways to develop apps inside of this headset. One of which Microsoft has included for you. Inside of there you can develop in real time augmented reality landscapes, scenes, and programs by using holographic computing. Not only is there a wide array of options and scenarios for you to choose from, but it seems as though there is endless possibilities when it comes to augmented reality and the development of apps, especially with unity.
There is a more traditional way to develop apps for the HoloLens. When running Windows 10 (the operating system that is ran on the HoloLens) there is a feature in which you can develop apps that do not require you to be inside of the headset itself. This makes for a quicker and more precise designs. You will be able to use Unity insde of the headset. With that being said, the processing unit is somewhat unreliable. Although the headset is very powerful, it can be a bit tricky sometimes to be designing apps. This is not saying that the apps them selves can be clunky. When using a solid app inside of the headset, the experience is nearly flawless, and your center of gravity is always there. The common consumer will likely not be using this headset.
What is HoloLens field of view?
The field of view on the HoloLens right now is only 35°. Although that is nothing to write home about, it still gets the job done. For all of the potential this headset has, it seems a bit useless to have a field of view that narrow. When you were wearing the headset it feels as though everything is directly in front of you or just slightly diagonal. That does decrease the functionality of the device, although it can be frustrating at times with the lack of room you have to operate.
And one of the first things that you recognize when you first put the headset on sadly, is the lack of peripherals you will use for this device. When using most VR headsets now, the field of view is at least 110°. So transitioning to this new AR headset can be a little different. Microsoft is already noticed the problem it has many people working on this to get fixed.
The HoloLens team has already filed a patent to make the field of you somewhere near 70°. This sounds lack luster to any other virtual reality headset, but in this augmented reality headset would nearly double making the field of view somewhat competitive with every headset on the market.
With all of the capabilities of the HoloLens, no one should be too concerned about the field of view. This headset is still one of the most functional and capable augmented reality headsets that has ever been created.
Where can I demo HoloLens?
Just about every store that you can buy the HoloLens from, you can also demo the product for years to come. Most people will wisely want to test out the headset before they make any purchases, especially for the amount of money they’re being sold for. When you go to demo this product, you will be shocked by the amount of things you can do and the smoothness it runs, along with the precise hand tracking from the headset a very immersive experience.
In the aforementioned question we talked about where you could buy a HoloLens. On the Microsoft HoloLens website, not only is there a list on where you can buy this product, but it also has a list on where you can demo the product. You can click on the link on those locations and it will take you to a site that will help you set up your appointment to demo the HoloLens in a reasonable time.
When will HoloLens get cheaper?
Internally known as “Sydney” the HoloLens 2 is set to release sometime this year. This headset is said to be noticeably cheaper and more power efficient than the previous model. A while your field of view is also set to be featured on this headset, along with a more comfortable feel and better holographic displays for your eye.
Although this headset is technically HoloLens 2, it is believed to be Microsoft’s third generation of hardware and software for this headset. It is reported that they were about halfway through making HoloLens V2 before it was scrapped due to advancements with other competing AR headsets.
The previous headset relied on the internal chip that was used for many other things other than the HoloLens itself. One of the ways they will reduce the cost of the headset is to have it shipped specifically made for this headset that will function perfectly for the needs of the user, and not have the capability to do too much and the power to not do too little. That is very important because one of Microsoft’s biggest points in the production of HoloLens 2 was cutting the price.
Why Use HoloLens?
The HoloLens, as helpful as it may seem, gets a little tricky to incorporate into your everyday life. We have compiled a list of a few things that you can use your HoloLens for without having to own a functioning company with mass purchase of the headset.
Remote instruction was first suggested in the Microsoft demo video of the HoloLens. That video the dad is drawing the instructions on what to do while fixing a sink. This could be used in many different ways. Imagine calling a professional about your sprinkler system, and the worker can communicate and draw exactly what you would need to do to solve the problem. It’s a pretty simple idea but it goes a long way.
The HoloLens is one of the best AR headsets on the market, and it gets that title by being very versatile. This headset has already collaborated and continuing to collaborate with major companies in every part of the world. When it comes to bringing a new look to your house, it isn’t always easy to simply imagine what it could look like.
The HoloLens is what you turn to. This augmented reality will leave you wishing that it was a reality. It is simple to turn your living room into something completely different in a matter of seconds. This is a huge advantage to any retailers trying to sell a couch or lounge chair. You will always feel more confident when you are able to see what it’ll look like, rather than taking a guess on it.
With the HoloLens set to get smarter this coming year, we can expect more games to be available to play on it. Yes, these games will never reach the already immersive gaming capabilities of virtual reality gaming headsets, but AR still has something to offer. Imagine having a world of Minecraft spread completely across your living space. That what AR has the ability to produce.
With the demos of these types of games already all over the web, people are itching to get their hands on an affordable HoloLens 2 and see the games available. With the HoloLens already capable of so many useful and helpful things, getting in on the gaming side of headset would give it a nearly unfair advantage.
Saying the HoloLens is the closest thing we have to Iron Mans set of glasses is not too far fetched. If you are familiar with the Marvel films, you remember that Stark is nearly creating and simulating holograms all with his hands and his futuristic glasses. Making a design with your hands has never been so easy.
With a 3-D printer, you can even make your projects come to life without having to find a manufacturer. This is a major step for developing and producing any type of product. Of course this is not the same as mass producing something, but a step in the right direction for people who want to view their ideas and see their ideas and objects come to life quickly.
Real Life GPS
In no way are we sponsoring the idea of wearing the HoloLens while driving. That is unsafe (and pretty sure that is illegal?). Anyway, we can not ignore the possibilities when it comes to real directing assistance when it comes to augmented reality. Imagine the route you need to drive to be highlighted in the soft sky blue. Once the field of view is no longer a pressing issue with the HoloLens, and HoloLens 2 comes out, the idea could become a reality.
If the developers can work with the major map satellites and their respective owners, this could add to the long list of tasks that AR can help everyday people with. Even if it meant syncing up with their phone, most users would benefit from this. It takes away the need to be looking at a phone while driving, making it an overall safer experience. If you mix this idea with gesture and the gesture recognition could make for helpful assistance.
TV screens and monitors may be devices of the past in the coming years and decade. In the original HoloLens demo video produced by Microsoft, they demo the ability to place a “TV screen” on the while Netflix was loading. This can and will be used for much more than Netflix in the future. You will be able to stream any TV show that you have subscription with, through any streaming service.
You will be able to download and watch shows on the go as well. Another ability that may come as a surprise, is the ability to stream your live television service as if it were a regular screen up the wall. AR and VR are the future, and when it comes to entertainment, the script is the same.
What is inside of HoloLens?
There is not as much of an “inside” of the HoloLens as you would expect. The inner makings of this are thin, sleek, and very much on the surface. One of the biggest mysteries of this device is the optics themselves. The see through glass that is next to the eyes is able to portray holograms as if they were feet away, rather than directly in front of your eyes.
We could jump into the complexity of how Microsoft was able to pull this amazing feature off, but we will dedicate articles strictly to the technology of that. The display itself is one of the more impressive parts of the headset, although I don’t think anyone would say it is the most important part of any headset.
Any XR headset (any kind of virtual, augmented, or mixed reality) the importance of sensors can not be overstated. If you have a bad set of sensors on your headset, chances are your experience will be lacking. There is nothing to make up for having bad sensors. With that being said, the sensors on the HoloLens are magnificent. Being able to understand your surroundings at any given time, regardless of where you are in the world or in your house, is next level.
At the top of the HoloLens headpiece, four cameras are placed. Two on either side of the middle. These cameras are a depth camera, ambient light sensor, and two 2MP photo/HD video camera. Not all of these parts were made by Microsoft for this specific device, some are off the shelf parts.
Is the HoloLens wireless?
Because the HoloLens doesn’t require a computer, there is no reason for it to not be wireless. Microsoft Recognize this and took full of vantage of the opportunity to make a standalone independent augmented reality headset. Of course the HoloLens needs charging through a wire, while you are experiencing life inside of the headset, there will be no wires ever attached.
This makes for a fully immersive augmented reality experience. Being able to access the HoloLens from anywhere you might be, and able to access everything the HoloLens can offer regardless of your location.
Does HoloLens need a computer?
As mentioned above, one of the reasons the HoloLens has the ability to leave the wires behind is because it is completely independent of any computer. Microsoft has found a way to make the HoloLens powerful enough to compute without needing the power of a gaming PC or any type of outside computing hardware.
It didn’t come as a surprise that the HoloLens can operate without a computer after we heard the news that Windows 10 would be able to operate on here with no limitations. This headset can offer anything else a computer can, so it would not make logical sense if it could not run on its own.
What is HoloLens Skype?
Skype on HoloLens is another form of communication through Microsoft. HoloLens Skype puts the person you are talking to inside of your environment. We mentioned earlier how Skyping with professionals could really change the AR landscape with how they can help you with tasks. That only bolsters how powerful this headset is the the potential it holds in it.
Whether it be helping fix a broken pipe, show your mother your greatest and latest life size art project, or simply being with someone over Skype, the HoloLens has you covered.
Skyping with the HoloLens only requires one person to own the headset. A great feature for anyone wanting to Skype. This allows the headset user to virtually call anyone with the headset, with no prerequisite for them answering the call. This will continue to be a growing trend for HoloLens users.
HoloLens for Education?
HoloLens is science fiction made into a reality. The HoloLens was never made with the sole purpose of education, but not using this headset for educating people would be a huge miss. Teachers that know the true power of the HoloLens and the technology are already salivating at the opportunity to incorporate the wearable computer into their classrooms. You can also see great displays of human anatomy while using the headset.
STEM education has already been enhanced in many ways through this new holographic technology. STEM (science, technology, Engineering, and mathematics) classes in many universities are taking advantage of the HoloLens. Because of the sometimes confusing technology of this headset, many people below the age of 14 have been advised not to use the HoloLens. That does somewhat restricted who can use the HoloLens, but the functions that can be used to educate with this headset can be taught to almost anyone in the world.
Can I use HoloLens for sports?
The HoloLens can we utilized for sports in many different ways. The NFL is already developing ways which you can watch their games as if the holograms were in your living room tackling each other. Many developers have been working on a soccer training system that will allow a user of the headset to train as if there is a field full of other players. There is many different ways the HoloLens can help with sports.
Although the entertainment value of the holograms may be a little diminished from a beautiful screen on the wall, it really depends on your taste individually. Everyone prefers something a little different, and the HoloLens gives you the opportunity to see what you like. Whether we like it or not this will be part of the future.
To the sports training side of this headset. Training on the soccer field with 21 other players are virtually there can be a huge step up from training individually with little orange cones by your feet. Soccer is the only sports training app we have on the HoloLens as of now, but there is much more to be done inside of sports training. Not only can this help soccer players, but basketball players, football players, and really any team sport athlete could benefit from training with holograms on the field or court of play. There is so much potential for training inside of the sports world of augmented reality.
HoloLens vs Magic Leap
When the HoloLens was first released, many believed it would completely kill the market for the the Magic Leap. That never happened, and in fact Magic Leap sales stayed pretty consistent. It is impossible to walk away from each of these headsets say you had the exact same experience. Yes there are many similarities, but the software and hardware for each of them are completely different and offer a different augmented reality experience. The holographic computing with the unreal engine is something to keep an eye on.
The Magic Leap is more of a set of goggles than a headset or headband with a visor. The optics and the technology that powers the optics of each device are completely different. Yes they both produce holographic images right before your eyes at different locations, but they do not share the same route of getting there.
The field of view is also very poor on the Magic Leap, but did slightly have an edge on the HoloLens. This issue should be addressed in the Magic Leap 2, and the HoloLens 2, which are both set to release sometime in early 2019. It is also worth noting that the Magic Leap needs a wireless block computer near by for it to function, although it doesn’t impact the experience in the slightest. In the Magic Leap, the center of gravity in the display is very small.
When it is all said and done, the Magic Leap has a small advantage over the Microsoft HoloLens. The all-around experience seemed nearly the same, but the HoloLens need to be precise with movements and exact with hand gestures was often frustrating to the overall experience. The software was also noticeably better in Google’s latest augmented reality headset. This will be another upcoming debate when both companies release the second version of the headsets with many promising features involved in each.
HoloLens vs HTC Vive
When comparing these two headsets, you need to be very careful if you say one is better than the other. They both function and run different operating systems and both have completely different uses and purposes. The Vive is mostly used for immersive and high-end gaming and entertainment. As the HoloLens is used mostly inside of work places and development stages of augmented reality applications and functioning systems.
Because of all of that it is hard to compare these two headsets. They both are the best at what they do. If you are needing a headset that will help you play Minecraft with in your living room then the HoloLens is your go to. If you are needing a headset that will help you play Minecraft with in your living room then the HoloLens is it. If you are looking for a headset that can play Beat Saber, Robocops, and many other virtual reality titles, then the Vive will be your pick.
HoloLens vs Oculus Rift
Just as we mentioned in the question above, it is very hard to compare things that don’t serve the same purpose and have the same functions. One of these headsets are augmented reality and one of these headsets perform virtual reality. Both are very good at what they do, and both do completely different things. You will never be playing a first-person shooter game with the Hololens, but you will with the Rift
The Rift is one of the best virtual reality gaming headsets on the market, and the HoloLens is one of the best augmented reality headsets on the market. The Rift does need to be connected to a PC to operate and run its intended purposes. That comes to no surprise because most virtual gaming headsets need that to be successfully running.
What is the HoloLens battery life?
If you are pushing the HoloLens to its very most capabilities, you will be able to pull at least 2.5 hours of the device. When being used at a regular rate, with regular functions, the HoloLens is capable of putting in a solid 5.5 hours. Nothing short of amazing for a completely isolated, wireless, and wearable computer.
This will surely be upgraded in the HoloLens 2 model, although it is true that no one would complain if Microsoft never bothered with the battery life again. The improvements we will likely see or to the battery life that is functioning on the highest level. When the headset is being heavily used, it will likely not die as fast as the first model.
Who invented HoloLens?
Alex Kipman is responsible for inventing the HoloLens. He is most famously known for his quote saying “the phone is already dead, people just haven’t realized”. This doesn’t mean that the phone has any use anymore, but he is alluding to the fact that it will be shortly replaced by something much more manageable and practical.
The project for the HoloLens was first launched in 2007, and the public nearly didn’t hear about it until 2015, when it made appearances with people able to demo the headset. Microsoft has been out of the phone game for quite sometime now, focusing mainly on augmented reality and mixed realities. That is where they and many other believe the future of technology is taking us.
Many of these companies that believe that AR is going to be the future are not wrong. In no way am I saying that movies are the future, but we look at nearly any futuristic film and we see either augmented reality or virtual reality inside of it. There might be a few reasons for this. It may be in the film because as a species we believe that it should be a part of the future. It may be in the film simply for looks and show off of CGI. Then there is the reason most believe its in the futuristic films. Simply because it will be a part of the future here on this planet.
The future of augmented reality and virtual reality is oozing with potential, but there are still many undiscovered ideas and devices that can make this all possible. We don’t know what we don’t know. The limitations and boundaries are always being pushed to their absolute furthest, and it is an exciting time for everyone. Not only tech junkies and people that love the virtual industry, but anyone who believes technology can improve their lives in any way.