When we saw Microsoft HoloLens in action with Minecraft at E3 last June, we were surprised and amazed from what they showed us on the stage: that was exactly what we were expecting from the best augmented reality headset we could imagine, and it was just breathtaking.
But those who tested live the device noticed that the experience isn’t exactly what we thought watching it from our screens: now Microsoft released a video showcasing the headset’s uses at Case Western Reserve University and finally the actual field of view is revealed…and, unluckily, it seems we have to reshape our expectations.
In the video, created to show the possibilities of using HoloLens and augmented reality for studying medicine, we can see how the students can see through the headset the human body parts and study the problems virtually, without putting at any risk the patients lives.
Of course, the use is awesome, but for the first time we also realize what exactly is the vision of the wearer: it is clear that there’s a bit limitation to the field of view that the user can have while using HoloLens; it seems to be an augmented reality “window”, that appears to take up about half of the screen, occupying a rectangle in the middle of the glasses’ field of view, and in the remaining part there’s just the real vision. This isn’t so much noticeable when the augmented reality objects are seen from afar, but it is very clear when they are near and right in front of the user.
Even for an incredible project as Microsoft HoloLens, at this time used also in space, there’s still a lot of work to do: we are sure that soon it will be as good as we imagined.
Some days ago a new augmented reality headset was added to the famous trio Google Glass, Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR: Microsoft, during its worldwide streaming event “Windows 10: Next Chapter”, presented various projects that will be developed in next months. Among the others (not less than Windows 10 and the new Microsoft’s browser) there’s a particular one which is very interesting to us: we are talking about the suite of augmented reality software called Windows Holographic and the related augmented reality headset, named HoloLens.
The Redmond company didn’t use the words “augmented reality” but “holograms”, still we know what that means: this will probably be the yet-missing mainstream AR set. In fact, at the moment Google Glass has just few AR apps, while Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR are more centered on virtual reality. HoloLens seems to be finally a true AR headset, which puts in communication our daily world with the virtual world.
As Microsoft’s Alex Kipman said: “Until now, we’ve immersed ourselves in the world of technology, but what if we could take technology and immerse it in our world?”
Kipman didn’t describe in depth HoloLons technology, but hinted that they are more sophisticated than the other headsets around: e.g. they create the illusion of depth showing to each eye a different plain image. There’s more: first, it seems it will not use markers as e.g. QR codes; second: the headset itself is very close to a pair of normal glasses, so definitely wearable and light (and why not? – even classy).
During the presentation event, Microsoft’s executives Joe Belfiore, Terry Myerson and Alex Kipman showed some examples of everyday use for HoloLens: how to adjust a broken pipe, make a Skype call directly on a wall and also how to build Minecraft buildings anywhere we want. There was also a demo on how to sculpt 3D printable models. These uses open this technology to almost every kind of people, making HoloLens, as we said before, the first mainstream AR headset; we are sure that this new product, with the related software, will be a success.
But this powerful techonology, of course, can be used even on higher levels: in fact, last but not least, Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA is working with Microsoft to see if they can use holograms in scientific research.
It’s not strange, in these times, to read on the web users saying that sci-fi is here. Yes, and it seems it just started.
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