This January, Microsoft announced the most exciting thing they’ve created since the Kinect: a combination of the Oculus Rift and Google Glass called HoloLens. Except that unlike Glass, you’re not meant to wear it in public and open yourself up to ridicule and beatings; and unlike Rift, you’re not cut off from the world and placed in a (possibly disorienting) purely virtual one.
HoloLens is a set of goggles with a built-in computer which places holograms directly in your environment. So through visual trickery, you could look at your empty desk and actually see a 3-D hologram of a block of marble on it, then sculpt it into the Venus de Milo. Or you could play a game where the characters jump on your couch. Or see a screen on a blank wall. Take a look at the concept videos:
The thing is very much a prototype now, with the promise that it will be available “in the Windows 10 timeframe”. Developers and partners are supposed to get access to it this spring, but it’s not likely to be on the open market until 2016.
Wired tried it out and really liked it — they had nothing but good things to say. Engadget was a bit more real and said that in its current state, it sucks for two reasons: the prototype is heavy, hot and uncomfortable in general and the software is demo-quality only, not fully-fledged consumer-grade functionality. They did acknowledge that it has some great possibility, if Microsoft does it right. So if and when it gets there, it should make for a very, very cool gadget to get instead of the a differently-sized iPad or a smartwatch.
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