Microsoft’s smartphone business did not see a good year in 2015 as sales declined to less than 2% of all the smartphones that were sold last year. The software giant did a little better in the tablet segment with a 10% market share of all the tablets sold in 2015. It seems evident that Microsoft needs something with which they can jump back up on top of the food chain and the HoloLens could actually be that “something.”
What the HoloLens does is that it augments the real world with the virtual. The difference between the HoloLens and VR headsets like the Oculus Rift lies in the fact that unlike virtual reality headsets, the HoloLens does not cut the user off from the real world. If you are using the AR headset, your peripheral visions will stay open and in the field of view in front of you, the real world will merge with the digital world.
We are talking about scuba diving from the comfort of your drawing room as your wooden walls turn into sea-bleached coral reefs right in front of your eyes. The next game you play with the HoloLens may have hordes of zombies coming out from your bedroom or that huge swinging axe blocking your way towards the treasure could be hanging from the roof of your own house! You will not only see and interact with holographic sea-creatures, aliens, zombies and what not, but you will also hear them. In fact, in a recent demo by Microsoft, they focussed on how the person wearing the headset can even hear the holographic images and determine their locations. This came particularly handy while playing the alien shooter which was used by Microsoft to showcase audio capabilities of the HoloLens. The spatial recognition is made possible by using Microsoft Kinect cameras that scan the area around you to create that augmented world.
Although it was surrounded in mystery, Bruce Harris has recently cleared up a lot of facts in a technological evangelist event at Tel Aviv. According to him, the HoloLens is a completely wireless, standalone device that can match a Windows 10 laptop in almost any task. In fact, the device will be compatible with all Windows 10 apps and also be able to connect to most gadgets via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The connection options go even further because the AR headset will connect to other HoloLens devices located anywhere in the world as long as there is a capable internet connection. This basically makes the HoloLens a futuristic PC right out of a science-fiction movie.
The battery life on the HoloLens may impress or disappoint you, depending on what you are using it for. From what we heard, it may last up to five and a half hours on a single charge if you use it for basic computing purposes, but a few intense sessions of gaming or resource hungry operations could limit that usage to two and half hours. Although fans expected the field of view to be a bit bigger than the 15-inch monitor sized display at a distance of two feet, we are still hopeful that the field of view can become more immersive as development continues.
The portable nature of the HoloLens will not allow the device to provide extremely detailed or complex holographic images, unlike a powerhouse PC; especially since it does not have a very robust cooling solution due to its design. Nonetheless, what it achieves and how much potential it holds for years to come is incredible to say the least.