For technology enthusiasts and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) investors, Microsoft HoloLens is one of the most exciting upcoming gadgets. While the product is not ready for the public just yet, there are plenty of videos on the Internet showing how impressive the user experience could be.
Here are seven things you need to know about “Microsoft HoloLens.”
1. Microsoft HoloLens Isn’t About Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) is one of the hottest fields in technology today, but Microsoft HoloLens is not about VR. Rather, the HoloLens is an augmented reality (AR) headset. The device projects text and graphics on top of the real world through a pair of holographic lenses.
2. You Can Interact with Virtual Objects Using Microsoft HoloLens
Microsoft’s HoloLens does more than just project holograms. Once you see them, you can also interact with them. Users can create and shape holograms using gestures, use voice commands to navigate through apps, and speak directly to Microsoft’s personal digital assistant “Cortana.” The Microsoft HoloLens even comes with built-in sensors that allow you to use your gaze to move the cursor.
3. You Don’t Need a Computer to Use Microsoft HoloLens
Many VR headsets on the market today—including Facebook’s “Oculus Rift”—require a computer to function. Microsoft’s HoloLens, on the other hand, works on its own. This is because the Microsoft HoloLens is pretty much a self-contained computer. It has its own central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU). The device even has Microsoft’s first holographic processing unit (HPU), featuring Intel’s 32-bit architecture.
4. Microsoft HoloLens Would Be Great for Gaming
No one wants to find zombies in their living room, but fighting zombies projected from Microsoft’s HoloLens into your living room could be a great gaming experience. VR headsets are already transforming the video game industry; AR could take it to the next level. This is because when you’re playing video games using a VR headset, you cannot see the real world, so your range of motion is limited. When you put on the Microsoft HoloLens, on the other hand, you still see everything around you, plus a layer of holograms. This allows an extended range of motion—something you’ll need when fighting zombies. Moreover, even simple games like Minecraft look amazing through the HoloLens.
5. Gaming Isn’t the Priority for Microsoft HoloLens
While Microsoft’s HoloLens has the potential to create a whole new gaming experience, the company is not going after gamers at the moment. Instead, Microsoft is targeting enterprise customers first.
According to Michael Hoffman, a former Microsoft engineer who worked on the HoloLens project, “there is clearly a gaming potential there but they don’t want to put this out there as an Xbox extension, because then nobody will say, yes, we can use this in our conferences, in our warehouses, in our hospitals.” (Source: “Former Microsoft HoloLens Man: It’s Not About Gaming,” The Register, April 11, 2016.)
His verdict: “it’s wise to limit gaming early on.” (Source: Ibid.)
6. You Can Wear Glasses While Using Microsoft HoloLens
This might not seem like a big deal to some, but for those of us who have imperfect vision and don’t want to wear contact lenses, experiencing VR/AR could be a challenge. Not many headsets offer room for glasses. Microsoft HoloLens, on the other hand, can be comfortably worn with glasses.
7. Microsoft HoloLens Developer Edition Costs $3,000
Right now, Microsoft HoloLens is not available to consumers. But if you’re a developer, you can apply for a developer edition, which costs $3,000. Based on some of the reviews of the developer edition, it seems that the product still has a few imperfections. (Source: “Microsoft’s HoloLens is super limited—and hella magical,” CNET, April 1, 2016.) Consumers who want to get their hands on the Microsoft HoloLens will have to be patient.