The HoloLens and Windows Holographic are a mixed reality computing platform developed by Microsoft that enables applications where the live presentation of physical real-world elements is incorporated with virtual elements so that they seem to exist in the same shared environment.
The project was announced by Microsoft in January 21, 2015 and Windows Holographic will feature an augmented-reality operating environment that can run the Universal Windows App. The mixed reality features can be implemented in any Universal Windows App and they can work with many devices based on Windows 10.
Windows 10 was launched in July 2015 and they said that the Windows Holographic suite will be introduced via the Microsoft HoloLens smart glasses headset that will be launched in the first quarter of 2016.
The HoloLens along with the developer’s kit will come out for the price of $3,000 and the designers said that a consumer version won’t come out too soon. They don’t want to repeat the mistakes they made with Kinect so they won’t rush it on the market. “When I feel the world is ready, then we will allow normal people to buy it. It could be as soon as we say ‘yes, and it could be as long as a ‘very long time’.” said Alex Kipman from Microsoft.
You can create and shape holograms with simple gestures and the app will also receive commands through your voice and through the eyes, so you have many ways of interacting with the environment. The depth camera has a 120×120 degree angle of view; you have a photographic video camera, an inertial measurement unit (with an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer) and a microphone array.
Aside from the CPU and GPU, the HoloLens incorporates a holographic processing unit that was designed by Microsoft and it processes the data from the sensors to take care of spatial mapping as well as gesture, voice and speech recognition.
The applications that were so far announced for the HoloLens include games like Minecraft or a first-person shooter code-named “Project X-Ray”. For modeling and design there is the HoloStudio which can produce output for 3D printers, tools for architectural engineering, space exploration, spacecraft design and many more. Check out the video presentation below to see the HoloLens at work.
The Autodesk Maya 3D creation application will receive new functions with the HoloLens and in education this can be used for human anatomy studies, astrophysics and many other fields of study. Research grants are being given to put this amazing tool to new uses and thus there is hope that it will find many new purposes in the future.