Microsoft gave the classic good news, bad news in Canada on Thursday. The HoloLens VR goggles device was given its largest demonstration to a wider audience of interested parties, appropriately, at a TED conference. The audience also got to experience something too when they used the prototype device complete with a camera sporting a fish-eye lens that they could see while sitting watching HoloLens creator Alex Kipman’s presentation.
Through this unique viewpoint, captured in multiple YouTube videos, Kipman shared rain landing up on the stage (not an unusual event in wet Vancouver where the event took place). More impressive was the holographic video chat that he had with a NASA scientist who placed a call from just across the street using a second HoloLens (Skype Galactic, anyone?). The Mars surface was displayed at their feet, with Kipman and the NASA staff displayed side-by-side during the virtual one-to-one call.
Kipman confirmed that stored maps were utilized for the TED stage, whereas typically real-world maps would need to be generated to create a similar experience when using HoloLens.
Developers could apply for a handset last year at a cost of $3,000 for the developer kit. There is no word on the release of a final version, particularly for consumer use, with possibly the release being years away yet.
Meta, a competing VR company, demonstrated their own Meta 2 goggles where the user could also make a video call using a 3D avatar, perform computer tasks without needing a monitor, and move virtual objects around a space.
Chris Milk also showed off his custom VR app which uses Google Cardboard technologies and a headset to work which the 1,200 strong audience enjoyed too.
Clearly multiple companies are taking on VR headsets in a big way and will be challenging each other to release commercially sooner rather than later.