Microsoft Demos HoloLens Augmented Reality, Eyes Business Apps
After spending most of the year whetting the public’s appetite with demonstration videos, Microsoft is giving people the chance to try its HoloLens augmented-reality (AR) headset devices. This week, Microsoft’s New York flagship retail location is hosting a "HoloLens Experience Showcase," allowing developers and others to try products developed for HoloLens.
Microsoft plans to sell $3,000 development kits around HoloLens next year, presumably as a step toward creating apps for the headset. The end-goal could be establishing its augmented-reality technology as a viable computing platform that can be used for business applications, in addition to the more obvious gaming and entertainment apps.
Microsoft hosted a trio of demonstrations for developers and journalists at its Fifth Avenue location. The demos included HoloStudio, which uses a combination of hand gestures and voice commands to move and recolor objects in a scene.
Another demo called Project X-Ray uses the room-scanning ability of HoloLens as part of a controller-based game in which the object is to blast aliens coming out of the surrounding walls. Finally, the newest demo project is a creation tool that combines 3D animation and Microsoft’s PowerPoint, allowing the user to create and refine a visual presentation. The twist to this tool is that HoloLens can determine how interested spectators are by where they look.
HoloLens' augmented reality differs from virtual reality in that it projects 3D simulations of holographic experiences onto what the wearer of the headset sees in reality.
While Microsoft’s New York showcase demonstrated the fun-and-games aspect of HoloLens, it remains to be seen what business uses the technology will have. We reached out to Sean Whitmore, research analyst at Greenlight VR, to get his thoughts on this subject. He told us he's confident that HoloLens will benefit from further business applications.
"That is why Autodesk has partnered with Microsoft to bring their 3D visualization software to this new product," said Whitmore. "In the long run, non-gaming industries could have more to gain from AR than VR. Microsoft's next steps should be to secure further partnerships like that of Autodesk to ensure companies already using that technology will be able to translate with ease into augmented reality."
Redmond Wants Ideas
To that end, Microsoft is working with businesses such as Autodesk along with such entities as NASA to enable HoloLens to become a crucial communication tool in various industries.
Microsoft also recently launched a Web site giving developers and other users until January 16 to submit ideas for HoloLens apps. Microsoft will put the three best ideas to a final vote on Twitter, then it will build the winning idea as an application for the device.
Whitmore pointed out that potential vertical markets for augmented reality include medical training, 3D visualization and product design, rapid prototyping, emergency response training, and more.
"However, many of these applications are still in a theoretical stage of actualizing," he noted. "It's the responsibility of hardware manufacturers for such emerging tech to find appropriate software partners that will help strengthen their core product and ensure future iterations, consumer demand and industrial practicality."
Posted: 2015-12-23 @ 12:31pm PT
Pity Microsoft has not still built a proper version of Windows. Perhaps with this new technology, they might one day create Windows Augmented Reality Special Edition.