Microsoft's HoloLens offers glimpse of the future
MICROSOFT on Wednesday unveiled the HoloLens hologram-projecting glasses, which a small number of reporters were allowed to use for a few minutes.
The hardware shown to the media was only a prototype, a two-piece unit that included a heavy battery attachment and a cord tethering the device to a computer.
But the HoloLens is wondrous. And it suggests that interacting with holograms could become an important part of how we use machines in the future.
When you put on the device, which looks a lot like ski goggles, you see three-dimensional digital controls - like buttons, lines and pictures - as well as sheep from the video game Minecraft superimposed on the world.
The holograms did not have very high resolution, and were sometimes a little dull. But they were crisp enough to create the illusion of reality - which was far more than I was expecting.
In one demo, a Minecraft scene was displayed over a real living room and I was prompted to use a virtual hammer to interact with a real-world coffee table.
I was stunned by what happened: Before my eyes, the real coffee table splintered into digital debris, and then it was no longer there.
The company also showed other useful applications of the glasses. One was a call on Skype, Microsoft's video-calling service.
Using the service, I called an electrician, who showed me how to install an electric light switch. I could see the electrician superimposed in my field of view as I worked on the switch. He saw what I saw through the camera on my HoloLens, and he could draw diagrams in my view that helped guide me along.
The main shortcoming in HoloLens was the little bit of lag with its gesture mechanism.
Microsoft said the headset would be available around the same time that Windows 10 is released, which is expected to be this year. The firm has yet to reveal the HoloLens' price.