back to article Hola HoloLens: Reg man gets face time with Microsoft's holographic headset

During Microsoft's Windows 10 preview day, select groups of hacks were stripped of any recording devices or cameras and sent down into the bowels of Building 92 of Redmond's campus to try out the software giant's new "hologramatic" wearable – dubbed the HoloLens. The headset fits glasses over your eyes and projects holograms …

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  1. ZSn

    Truely holographic?

    I presume that this isn't truely holographic just in essence a *very* good head up display. It is possible to on the fly compute a moving hologram to display as you look at it the computation involved is something like a very large mainframe even recently. If they're managed to fit that and the laser systems into that headset I'd be amazed!

    1. streaky Silver badge

      Re: Truely holographic?

      It's not a hologram in that way (well it isn't at all). Arguably it's more realistic in it's attainability - but the effect from the viewer perspective should be the same (arguably better, to look like an actual thing rather than a weird-ass projection). Enough people have said it really is what they're advertising for me to believe it, if you look at the technical specs it does look sound.

      1. Andrew Newstead

        Re: Truely holographic?

        Be careful about dismissing the "holographic" claim here. Current aircraft HUDs have holographic optical components as part of the glass plate that the pilot looks through. They improve the collimation of the devices (allows the user to focus on the outside world and still read the display) and the reflectivity for the plate, thus reducing the power required by the display. One of the things about holographic HUDs is that some of them are curved panels and as such the width of the view is much improved.

        It is not inconceivable that this technology has been applied here, it would certainly help with some of the points raised concerning power usage, so describing them as holographic would be an accurate labelling.

        Cheers

        Andrew

      2. Stu

        Re: Truely holographic?

        This is the key thing for me, isn't what MS are peddling with all their snazzy mock-up vids, is rather what they're not showing us behind the scenes, like what display tech are they using, how they're scanning the 3D environment around them - saying it's Kinect based isn't really the whole picture, also what hardware it's made up of and how it'll ever finally fit into a pair of glasses, something they've really been glossing over!

        Other journos have said they felt like the 3D objects are in fact reasonably well stuck to the real world, which is great, but I'm not seeing how Google seem only to be able to put up a semi-transparent image in the corner of your eye with Glass, but MS can do a full coverage 3D overlays onto the real world, having the ability to obscure your entire field of view!? Really!?

        I'm reserving judgement until the dev kits come out.

        1. Andrew Newstead

          Re: Truely holographic?

          This might give you an insight.

          http://www.technologyreview.com/news/415755/head-up-displays-go-holographic/

          I found this when I was researching holographic HUDs to see if there is any connection to the Holovision. I wouldn't be at all surprised if these people have had a big input to the device.

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Truely holographic?

      I predict that this will be big for interactive porn....!

  2. KrisMac

    Hell Officially Froze over for me on the 21st of January 2015...

    ..because Microsoft announced something that made me feel excited to be in this business again, and left me with that 'I can't wait till this hits the shelves' feeling. It has been a long time since that has happened.

    The HoloLens device may not be ready for prime time yet, but just the existence of the API that developers can base independent development on will give this technology a real kick in the pants. Augmented Reality, (no - this is not a hologram!), is truly going to be the next battleground for display and user interaction. Even if the headset device ends up tethered, (via high speed Bluetooth or similar), to something like a smartphone in the wearers pocket to give it some battery life and processing grunt, the potential for integration of physical and digital visual representations in a single user experience is going to be huge.

    Microsoft's HoloLens is much, much more exciting than Oculus Rift, (which is also fantastic technology IMHO BTW).

    And I can't believe I just wrote that...

    1. Bucky O' Hare

      Re: Hell Officially Froze over for me on the 21st of January 2015...

      Microsoft, you know you're supposed to keep on messing things up and releasing bad things, right? Doing stuff like this will only get people liking you again, ugh.

    2. PleebSmash
      Boffin

      Re: Hell Officially Froze over for me on the 21st of January 2015...

      I've been called a Google Glass apologist, but this is what the device should have been. Full lens display enabling augmented reality, not a corner display that causes eye strain. Go ahead, wear it while driving... the people who can afford the best of these products in 5 years will be among the first to adopt driverless cars as well.

      If Intel makes smaller and more powerful "Quark" type chips, and more fashion designers get brought on board, it could be possible for one of these companies (Google, Microsoft, Sony, etc.) to make a smartglasses model that are indistinguishable from normal glasses (at least the ones with thicker frames) or sunglasses. Tiny cameras are Cold War technology... make it small enough, and every spectacle bearer could be a hidden glasshole. The self-contained nature of HoloLens (and whatever this marketing speak secondary GPU does) might enable less input lag than Oculus or a smartphone-tethered pair of glasses. So possible less AR/VR barfing.

      In any case, professionals and niches are a good first target. Surgeons for Glass, NASA for HoloLens.

      1. Boothy

        Re: Hell Officially Froze over for me on the 21st of January 2015...

        I doubt AR will cause illness, not like VR can anyway.

        With VR you have no view out to the real world, only the generated one. If that generated world isn't grounded somehow to the real one, you start to feel sick.

        As an example, in a sim game, such as Elite Dangerous, you're in a cockpit, the vr world might be whizzing around you outside the cockpit, but the cockpit itself is static to your body (if not your head). But it's enough to fool your head. I've played for hours at a time with no issues.

        But play an fps, and that changes rapidly for some people. I managed about 30 mins before needing a break!

        AR helmets like this let you see the real world, so no confused head, as long as it doesn't try taking over your entire vision anyway. So I can imagine people being able to use this all day long without any real issue,

        Looks quite cool too, unlike the Rift currently ;-)

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Hell Officially Froze over for me on the 21st of January 2015...

      Screw the air guitar, now it is air keyboard, with actual results! :-D

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Hell Officially Froze over for me on the 21st of January 2015...

        To an outsider, the air gestures and voice commands will look exactly like someone is casting spells. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." AC Clarke.

        Yeah!

        1. David Given

          Re: Hell Officially Froze over for me on the 21st of January 2015...

          Me, I've always preferred Gehm's Corollary:

          "Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Microsoft spokesman explained that images are displayed in 3 dimensions before adding that 3 dimensions ought to be enough for anybody

    1. hitmouse

      In a rare display of agreement, Steve Jobs said the same thing "because Apple's products are timeless".

      1. DougS Silver badge

        If anyone knows timeless

        A time traveling dead guy does.

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Trollface

      4. It displays in 4 dimensions. Well, I guess 3 and a half "technically" and 3 are spacial and one is along a time like dimension. ;)

  4. Teiwaz Silver badge

    droool...

    It's hard to judge from photos, the minecraft and skype pick I immediately thought, the Nintendo 3DS could do something similar (except you'd have to have a head cradle that held the handheld at on or around 30Cm from your eyes to avoid that (this is giving me a headache) feeling.

    Then I saw the NASA application and I just thought WOW.

    Microsoft don't do too badly on hardware, the Kinect is'nt a bad piece of kit either, I quite like their keyboars and mice (last ages), I even liked the consoles (the 360 (wired) controller is much respected for the price). It's the lack of personal control, security and software decisions that bother me (I'm sure even the RT is a fine piece of kit, sold at a reasonable price and with the freedom to put a decent OS on it).

    1. Cliff

      Re: droool...

      Microsoft - partner with an adult content provider, you'll both make millions from early adopters to barge your way into mass market.

      Is that Monica Bellucci sitting on my coffee table again?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: droool...

        "Is that Monica Bellucci sitting on my coffee table again?"

        To while away boring parts of meetings I found I could project a mental image into my field of vision.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: droool...

          Is it a glass table?

          1. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: Is it a glass table?

            The article says the hololenses map the environment so it could easily overlay a glass table, or anything you want. It could even be, oh I don't know, maybe a spindryer on fast cycle with her sitting on it and gently.........

            Excuse me, I just have to lie down for a bit.

            1. ken107

              Re: Is it a glass table?

              If you gonna go VR, might as well go for life-size. Life-size Monica Belluci in lingerie on bed or walking around the apartment OK, not on glass table.

              However, the AR/VR porn future is not as we imagine. We'd love to be able to walk around the set of a porn video and watch from any angle we want. However this is limited to computer-generated 3D models of porn stars, who has to perform while wearing motion capture probes. You won't get the realism of a video.

              Similarly virtual Monica Belluci will only be as realistic as computer modeling and animation technology allows. While the technology is very good now, computer models can ever have only a much limited range of facial expressions and body language compared to a real person, and this is not a limitation of the technology but of psychology. It'll be fine for a virtual personal assistant but porn requires more.

      2. cambsukguy

        Re: droool...

        She wouldn't be sitting on the coffee table in my version.

    2. John Sanders
      Boffin

      Re: droool... NOT

      From the sceptic department.

      """It's hard to judge from photos, the minecraft and skype pick"""

      No it is not, what bothers me with these images is that they are way too "perfect", they show two very specific simplistic situations that adapt to the technology and not the other way around.

      It is very easy to create lab impressive demonstrations, producing the same with day-to-day gear is a whole different matter.

      Also this being Microsoft will not end being what it should be because it will not be open enough so people can hack on it and produce the killer open standards and major refinements that this will require to work in the real world beyond the gimmick of a tightly controlled demo.

  5. mathew42

    I wonder if this or the google glass approach is better for people wanting to complete a task with instructions also available. I'm thinking particularly of jobs like surgery where a high degree of manual dexterity and accuracy is required.

    1. Busby
      Thumb Up

      Forget surgery the obvious use would be to make incomprehensible ikea instructions easy to follow!

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Ikea instructions? Let's try to keep things within the realms of possibility here, shall we?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ikea instructions

        unfortunately your set appears to be running outdated and / or illegally modified, ad-stripped version of our award-winning ikea DIY software. Please sit back and wait for our software compliance engineer team and the local police force unit to arrive to verify and rectify this in approximately... 3 minutes. Please do NOT attempt to vacate the premises in the meantime, as contact with doors and windows might cause unexpected surge of electric current resulting in unpleasant feeling of pain.

        And in the meantime, may we recommend our own brand-new, comfortable, stylish, law-enforcement-approved ankle monitor in seven fetching colours, ideal for applying in less severe forms of movement restriction orders. Credit cards and blood (click here for terms & conditions) accepted.

  6. Boothy

    Why the comparison with Oculus Rift?

    One is AR the other VR, so not the same usage, they will compliment each other, not be in competition!

    Saying the Oculus Rift isn't as good as the MS offering, because you can't see throught the Rift, is like saying your TV is no good, because you can't see the wall behind it!

  7. Blank Reg

    Seems like cool tech, but I don't expect it to really go anywhere. The potential uses just don't seem worth the hassle.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The potential uses just don't seem worth the hassle."

      There is book written about the history of clocks by an expert in the field. Some of the electro-mechanical mechanisms were very clever. In one case a mechanical pendulum cast a shadow on a photocell - and that resulted in a sine wave modulation of an electric current.

      The book was published in the 1940s and concluded with the latest advance which had undreamed of accuracy. However the author could only see its future use in a few laboratories owing to its size and complexity. That technology was the quartz crystal oscillator clock.

  8. Crazy Operations Guy

    Mind-controlled clicking

    Combine this with Mattel's Mind-flex headset contraption from a few years ago and work on improving it a bit and you'd have your clicking sorted out and maybe a few other controls as well depending on whether they could improve the technology.

    With some work, you could totally administer a whole network of computers using a UI like the one form "Hackers".

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Mind-controlled clicking

      I'm staring at being quadraplegic in the not too distant future so I'm way interested in what can be done with this in combination with neural sensing. Of course by that time we may have stem-cells all sorted out but just in case....

  9. Sebastian A

    The most screamingly obvious use for augmented reality...

    has to be advertising. So no, I don't think I'll be getting too excited about this until the time you can get an AdBlock plugin for it. Otherwise every square meter of my house is going to be wallpapered with ads. Tailored to my location and browsing history too no doubt. Spend a bit longer than average on the shitter, and you'll get bombarded with ads for all-bran and hemorrhoid creams. Sitting in traffic? We'll turn every white van in your sight range into billboards for mass transit.

    Age has made me cynical, but this cynicism has served me well recently, I won't make much of an attempt to suppress it just yet.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: The most screamingly obvious use for augmented reality...

      That and probably porn. I'll leave it to the reader to consider the possibilities.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: The most screamingly obvious use for augmented reality...

        "White vans in your locality are dying for sex with you..." ?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The most screamingly obvious use for augmented reality...

      That was the thought that struck me as well.

      Admen - a greater plague than lawyers.

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: The most screamingly obvious use for augmented reality...

        Funny, because one of the reasons I like WinPhone is the almost complete absence of ads. Some apps have them, pay a bit and they are gone (or the app is removed).

        Even the Facebook feed is ad free (a massive blessing even though I use it rarely).

        I installed Words with Friends a while back because someone wanted to play - it started on iPhones I think. After a play, an ad plagues you. When I complained to the other party about this he said that the iPhone version played a 20 second video ad at you instead. They must be super tolerant and assume all phones are like theirs without even trying to find out, sheeple indeed.

        Don't play that anymore, give me Wordament any time.

        1. Mike Taylor

          Re: The most screamingly obvious use for augmented reality...

          Wordament is awesome, but - for the most part - you can click away the ads on the newer windowsphone wwf almost immediately.

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: The most screamingly obvious use for augmented reality...

        "Admen - a greater plague than lawyers."

        Is there something they both want so we can try and set them on each other? Mutual annihilation of those particular breeds might set us back about -450 years if we're lucky.

    3. Crazy Operations Guy

      Could actually be used for the opposite

      With proper image-recognition software, it might actually be possible to do the opposite: remove ads from the real-world. The headset could be set up to do basic image recognition to compare what you are seeing to a database of advertisements (linked to your current location and the direction you are looking to reduce computational requirements) and replace it with a blank rectangle or maybe nice photos of cats or something. Maybe when you're traveling to a location, replace the image on the billboard with a maps and directions to the next way-point..

      The advertising industry would hate it but Microsoft wouldn't care, the lion's share of their income is off of software sales, not ad sales like their competitors.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Could actually be used for the opposite

        "and replace it with a blank rectangle"

        there's only one thing to say to that...fnord!!

  10. Jim84

    Going dark

    I wonder if the front of the glass display could be made to go dark when playing an Occulus VR type game to block out the outside world, and then switched back to clear for AR? Perhaps objects could be selectively displayed in VR mode so that when you walk within 1.5m of the coffee table or family dog they appear preventing accidents and the "Trip anxiety" that goes with VR?

    Also these things will probably need some kind of ranged wireless power like what Witricity is proposing to ever be used wirelessly.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: Going dark

      One thing my sprog said was why make the Netflix screen so small, to which I replied that you would have to have a surface that was flat at least to 'project' the movie on because otherwise bits of the real world would stick out into the picture.

      If the 'screen' were opaque, VR style, this might be ok, the bigger the display, the greater the risk of tripping etc. if you move around.

      If the image is not solid enough for that, the background (say a wall) would need to be whiteish.

      Or, the display would need a layer which could be made opaque (including white) at the pixel level to make a screen to project on.

      Would the Netflix stay where it was or stay where you are looking, the former seems most likely but the latter seems useful sometimes - since you are the only one watching it after all.

      Maybe it would just float in space, change size based on whether you were moving about, for safety, and have an opaque 'screen'.

    2. wdmot

      Re: Going dark

      @Jim84

      Or, a way to implement Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses!

  11. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Headmaster

    It's just a Koala

    "Bear" is both redundant and incorrect. Where's the Indignant Aussie icon when you need it?

    Also what's with the Hoover logo?

    1. Kane Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: It's just a Koala

      "Also what's with the Hoover logo?"

      Exactly.

      Ok, so the framing around the "H" is different, but it is the "H" that is recognisable here. It's the first thing that jumped out at me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's just a Koala

        Unlikely to be a subliminal Hoover logo as vacuums suck, my first impression was it was similar to the ASOV logo

  12. This post has been deleted by a moderator

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