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 …

  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 Silver badge

    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 Silver badge

      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

  13. Martin 47

    munters rejoice

    Beer goggles, they have gone and made real beer goggles!

  14. WildW

    Cortana

    So it won't be long until I can have Cortana in the room with me looking just like in Halo. I think I'm going to like Windows 10.

  15. Mike VandeVelde
    IT Angle

    steady?

    How steady does it seem? If you are looking at some minecraft blocks on your table, and you glance from one end of the table to the other, how steady and solid do they seam? How instant is the motion tracking to video updating? This would be the difference for me between a cheap seeming gimmick and a truly revelational experience. If I'm running up the stairs past a poster projected on the wall, does it seem like it's actually physically attached to the wall or more like a jittery overlay? If they've got that nailed then well done, otherwise meh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you are looking at some minecraft blocks on your table, ...

      ... maybe take off the mspecs and just play with some lego instead? :-)

      (other choices of buliding toy are permissible)

  16. Eugene Crosser
    Joke

    "You hold a fist in front of your face, raise a finger vertically, then roll it back down."

    I am trying to image this.

    Seems both obscene and hazardous.

    1. Robert Ramsay

      Re: "You hold a fist in front of your face, raise a finger vertically, then roll it back down."

      I believe this is what you are looking for:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtuuFppENS8

  17. HKmk23

    Let us hope

    That it turns out good enough to used in a helpdesk environment....and not just for computing.

    Now how do you strip the gearbox in a Honda lawnmower? or Is this right way to wire an air conditioner?

  18. Eguro

    Looks amazing!

    Surely they'll save some battery life by not including internet access... right?

  19. Mr Tank

    I can see the future.

    A great boost for the porn industry, all the amazing stuff you could do with it, but we all know what the killer application cash cow would be, I'll start coding now!!

  20. Slacker@work

    WANT

    see title

    that is all

  21. Semaj
    FAIL

    These things look pretty cool and all but I just can't see it taking off for mass market consumption.

    Most people I know don't even use the 3D function of their 3D tellies because you have to wear "stupid glasses", hell I've never even bothered trying the option on my projector. Mainly I can't see many folks wanting to strap a massive thing to their head and lug around a pound of battery.

    As a niche product for porn, theme parks, science or the DIY helper thing it could work nicely but as for mass market I just can't see anyone wanting it.

    1. PonchoD

      What 3D TV's allow you to walk around and observer the image from other angles?

      Because I would have bought one if it wasn't a cheap trick being sold to idiots for 15% of the TV's retail price.

  22. Lionel Baden

    google glass

    So why did google suddenly shelve google glass ?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Three fans on the top of the unit worked overtime

    and the battery pack going in 3...2...1

    other than that - welcome to the future (and I mean it!)

  24. Sirius Lee

    Dear OP, I will be grateful if you will ditch the idea that every computing device has to come in a tiny, light almost invisible package. It is really limiting. It is surprising to me that the we do not already use modularized computing component that we can, optionally, wear around us if we choose. A larger, longer lasting battery that fits in a pocket, a CPU unit that is not right next to the the display unit, think of a personal version of Remote Desktop which a allows a chunky CPU to be separate from a small, lower power displat CPU. And other developments.

    Expecting that great technology able to last for hours will fit in a small mobile phone sized package is really limiting especially for new stuff. If you, as one of the few people able to get a look a new stuff, are constantly whining about size designers are going to be constantly concerned about size which seems to put the cart before the horse for no other good reason than that's mobile phones do. But not everything is a mobile phone or needs to be that size.

    1. streaky Silver badge

      All Microsoft have to do is have the option to be able to give the thing some power while you're using it at your desk and some battery power to last all the times when you're not. If they do that (and it functions like claimed) they're gold regardless of all the other noise.

  25. cortland

    Digital photography

    Just a good [enough],cheap [enough] wearable display would sell to photographers using digital cameras. Bluetooth viewers, anyone?

  26. James 51 Silver badge

    Won't help spreadsheets or word processing much but think about OO code displayed in three dimentions. You could view the structure of the relationship and when you open up a class nested code could be indented in three dimentions. It would be tricky to get the GUI right but it has potential.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I'm thinking about building design. Although that's probably because that's the piece of work I'm currently avoiding by reading this...

      One of the big problems in current building design is that all the stages are done separately, and that space is at ever more of a premium as property prices rise. So the architects design the building, but no bugger-all about building services engineering. The modern way to do projects seems to be not to pay a designer to do a proper job, but to get the builder to do the design for you. In the bizarre hope that this will make it somehow free, rather than them just putting up their prices to you, and now being able to get away with shitty components and shoddy design choices, because you've refused to pay a few quid to have the design done properly.

      Anyway when you come to try and cram all the water, electric, heating and ventilation in, it's a lot more helpful if you look at a 3D model to try and work it out, than it is to try and guess all this from flat drawings. Plus each lot of services will be on a different bit of paper, as there's only so much you can fit, and still be legible. At one drawing per floor, you'd be amazed how much paper you need for something like a 20 storey building. Plus not everyone can make the mental leap from what a flat drawing is showing, to what that means in a 3d world. This is why so many people are so awful at reading maps.

      1. AbelSoul
        Trollface

        At one drawing per floor, you'd be amazed...

        > how much paper you need for something like a 20 storey building.

        20 sheets?

        1. cambsukguy

          Re: At one drawing per floor, you'd be amazed...

          Perhaps he means, 20 for electricity, 20 for water, 20 for gas, 20 for security cams, 20 for water, 20 for waste, 20 for ...

          Well, you get the idea.

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: At one drawing per floor, you'd be amazed...

          20 sheets?

          AbelSoul,

          I bloody wish! I was sent the spec for a 10 storey block of flats the other day. With gym, shops, offices and whatever. There are two 400 page documents with pointless cut & paste bits of the various regulations and standards you're supposed to comply with, picked seemingly at random and mostly irrelevant. Then there were 15 un-named folders, each containing between 10 and 30 drawings, each labelled something like A005729-v1073-Zzzzbgs75680.pdf. There's no logic to the naming scheme, it seems to be random numbers you have to check against a table of drawings, in a separate PDF that's itself 20 pages long!

          Admittedly a tool to simplify all this will do no good, as the needless over-complication could already be dispensed with by just using a brain. I'm assuming the person paid to organise all the data for the project just took the money, pissed off down the pub, and employed a few chimps from London Zoo to throw it all together. Literally.

  27. Solar

    And the other three things?

    You can't end the article with a comment like "one of four things" and not tell us what the other three are?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: And the other three things?

      Exchange the question mark for an asterisk and I'm with you.

      Of course, it's probably just a teaser for the next article.

  28. graeme leggett

    Image if....

    "you got the actual cartoon Elsa from Frozen bursting out of the landscape, singing "Let it Go."

    YMMV

  29. Truffle

    Education just got more interesting

    For me, the biggest winner in this technology would be teaching.

    Imagine history lessons, where you don't learn about the Battle of the Bulge, but you walk around in it, experience it. Or stand in the crowd at a Martin Luther King speech.

    Science lessons where you can explore the surface of planets....

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Education just got more interesting

      " the Battle of the Bulge, but you walk around in it, experience it"

      You put the lenses on, I'll turn down the aircon, and throw ice chippings and steel ball bearings at you.

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: Education just got more interesting

        As long as Telly Savalas is there, smoking a cigar and shouting at me, it would be worth it.

        Perhaps the fans will be able to blow at the wearer adding real-world feelings - at least for warm beach scenes.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Education just got more interesting

      Because god knows we wouldn't want students to have to use their imagination.

      I've seen AR museums and historical sites, and heard their designers and curators wax rhapsodic over their educational advantages. I've yet to hear even a slightly persuasive argument from any of them.

      This sort of thing might eventually make AR mildly popular among the rich (which includes the middle class in developed countries) - people who don't have anything better to worry about. And yes, it has some specific applications in specific industries; I'm sure we're all familiar with the litany (warehouse inventory! surgery! showing idiots how to assemble a sink drain!).

      Personally, though, I found AR unimpressive and undesirable at SIGGRAPH '89, except for some very specific applications, and a quarter-century later I still find it unimpressive and undesirable. I doubt methodologically-sound studies, should any be devised and conducted, would show much improvement in any metric (productivity, quality, etc) due to the use of AR with most common tasks. And that definitely includes the vast majority of educational exercises.

      JFTR, I've taught at the college level and studied pedagogy, so I have a little experience in the area.

  30. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Looks great, but when will we actually see one in the wild

    Sounds exciting...but then again I'm still waiting for MS to release a consumer version of it Table surface product they announced in 2008.....so maybe we are getting ahead of ourselves

  31. Haro

    And the winner is ...

    MS, for the greatest time-shift of any concept product. At least the Google thing worked. In a year or two, you'll still need one of those IBM batman mainframes strapped to your back. :)

  32. Francis Vaughan

    CAVE

    As far as the applications go - from exploring landscapes, architecture, design, and porn, this is over 20 years late to the party. What MS have done is very neat, making it AR rather than VR, (not new) and suggesting that there might be an affordable version on day (seriously big). Putting the work into an integrated system and leveraging modern silicon is great, but don't kid yourselves that they invented this stuff. What they are doing is making it available. Like the Kinect make motion tracking affordable, this may make VR/AR affordable. Like the Kinect this is likely to be a winner.

    Really, all this hype and drooling over technology and ideas that really is 20 years old - kids of today. Sure, back then you paid Silicon Graphics insane money for a few reality engines, and then Electrohome (now Christie) or Barco ridiculous money for a bank of projectors, or bought a silly expensive set of VR goggles, and finally Ascension for a motion tracking system, but you got a fully immersive virtual reality system that did all this. The API is CAVElib, and there is lots of software that uses it.

  33. Danny Roberts 1

    Resolution

    How does the resolution of these goggles stack up?

    The Oculus Rift DK2 uses a 1080p screen that is expanded to fill the users full FOV with lenses, this means that a 1080p screen isn't a high enough resolution and there is a 'screen door' effect, individual pixels can clearly be seen.

    I'm assuming that the resolution of the Hololens will appear better as the display is not being magnified to fill the full FOV but I struggle to see how they will be able to 'project' a 1080p film onto a wall and still have enough pixels left to cater for head movement without running a 4K+ screen.

    I hope such a screen is available (at a sensible price) and also ends up in the Rift! :-)

  34. The elephant in the room

    All this talk of porn...

    ...but the exact opposite could be the case, with Righteousvision(TM) installing a Smartburka(TM) on every female whoreish enough not to already be wearing one. That would be an ironic piece of malware to pick up from a "gentlemens'" website!

  35. Gazareth

    So pray tell,

    what were the other 3 creations that elicited such a response?

    1. GregC

      Re: So pray tell,

      You might want to have another read of the article...

      "The first, Holo Studio, was a design system for building 3D objects using parts and coloring options displayed on a Photoshop-style menu."

      "The second demonstration involved using HoloLens for a Minecraft-type game, where hologramatic game graphics were projected onto furniture."

      "Your Reg hack had to miss the third demo for time reasons, but it involved a HoloLens-enabled Skype call that allowed the callee to add annotations to the view of the caller."

      And then the Mars thing.

      Or am I missing something here?

      1. Gazareth

        Re: So pray tell,

        "Reporting on technology will make anyone a bit grizzled and cynical over time, but occasionally something comes along that just blows you away. HoloLens is the fourth such creation to make this hack say "Holy f**k!" (in a good way) in the last two decades."

        So 3 other tech creations over 2 decades, rather than 3 other facets of the HoloLens themselves.

        (Which reading about has elicited as response of "Holy f**k!" (in a good way) from me :))

  36. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    MS should do an Apple

    I wonder if MS would have a better public image if they acted more like Apple when it comes to new products? ie wait until it's ready to go before announcing it instead of announcing an early prototype which may or may net ever see viable production.

    Don't get me wrong, this announcement is a real shot in the arm with a product which has the potential to be really great, but if it fails, for whatever reason, to materialise, MS are going to look like chumps all over again, eg Surface RT, WinPhone, Zune and others.

    How many people remember Apple failures?

    1. Sarah Balfour

      Re: MS should do an Apple

      What, you mean like the Newton and the Pippin…? Nah, don't remember those at all…

      Anyone else not remember 'em…?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: MS should do an Apple

        What, you mean like the Newton and the Pippin…? Nah, don't remember those at all…

        They both shipped, so I don't see how that refutes the OP's argument.

        I don't agree with the OP - I prefer companies announce in-development products, regardless of whether they see the light of day, because R&D is interesting, and because I worked on some things at IBM that ended up in that Ark-of-the-Covenant warehouse so I sympathize with the creators of stillborn development lines. But I think the claim that Apple tends to ship the stuff it announces more or less stands, even if that stuff sometimes falls flat.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is awesome tech. Such potential. Just imagine playing digital chess (or any board game) with a friend who is across the country. You have his skype window pinned to the chair opposite you and playing on a "hologram" chess board. Or your local D&D group could get high tech and actually see their campaign come alive on the table before them.

    Personally if I had the money I would make a business out of these devices, what I mean is get an office building with a few floors. Gut the insides and put up an almost maze like partitions. Make a LARP style Dungeon Crawler where you round a corner and see a couple of skeletons or zombies. You and your friends have bows, swords or magic that you control with hand gestures. Looking for the treasure or the boss floor. Would be an awesome experience I and many gamers would pay for. Could have the players characters level up and collect gear. The potential is mind boggling.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Just imagine playing digital chess (or any board game) with a friend who is across the country. You have his skype window pinned to the chair opposite you and playing on a "hologram" chess board. Or your local D&D group could get high tech and actually see their campaign come alive on the table before them.

      OK, I've imagined them. Which is rather the point, isn't it? We're talking about games that incorporate imagining things as part of their play. So, great, let's eliminate that aspect. Maybe we can remove all the fun if we try hard enough.

      Y'know what's a real drag in baseball? Running around the bases. How about if we give the runners Segways instead? Why, there's no problem with games that technology can't solve.

      Honestly, I do not understand what Reg readers have against imagination. Are your poor brains really so tired?

      Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go yell at the imaginary kids on my lawn.

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