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Microsoft Hololens: the future of computing?

by  David Dwyer on  16/07/2015    1052 Reads

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a hologram?  To create new worlds inside the world you live in?  To change a design with the wave of your hand?  Well, soon you’ll be able to.

Microsoft are set to roll out Hololens, a wireless headset computing system built on Windows 10 that allows you to do all of the above and more.  Unlike virtual reality, where you are not aware of your surroundings, and augmented reality, where you see the real world through a layer or screen of data, with Hololens you mix holograms with your surroundings.  Microsoft call it “mixed reality”.

What does that actually mean?  The technology allows you to pin digital content such as apps, information and videos in the physical space around you, so you can interact with a 3D weather forecast, for example, while you cook dinner from a recipe in a hologram “book”.  Hololens also gives gamers a much more realistic experience, plus the power to alter buildings and layouts at the wave of a hand.

Designers of three-dimensional objects will use the technology in the same way.  The holograms appear life-like and can be moved, shaped and changed according to interaction with you (by gestures, eye movements or voice) or with their physical surroundings.  Although it has more computing power than the average laptop, the Hololens needs no fan, so it’s silent in operation.  Needing no mouse, touch-screen, external camera, phone line or cables, users will be free to move wherever they want and pin holograms wherever it suits them. As Alex Kipman (Technical Fellow, Operating Systems, at Microsoft) says, “People, not devices, are mobile.  We are ready for technology to move beyond devices, beyond screens and pixels, and beyond today’s digital borders”.

Imagine you’re giving a presentation about a new product – say, a car.  Instead of having to get the vehicle inside the building you can pin a hologram of it in view of everyone, turn it to show the other side, even alter it to prove a point.  Education is another area where Hololens is expected to come into its own, particularly in medicine, engineering, technology and other subjects where 3D images could make a major difference to students’ understanding.

So what is Hololens?  It’s a head-top computer: a headset and transparent screen combo that looks like over-grown industrial eye-protection.  You can wear it over prescription specs and it’s designed not to rest on your nose or ears: the weight is distributed by an adjustable band that goes right round your head.  The working parts are attached to the band on a gimbal system to avoid shocks and maintain the horizon.  Very neat and futuristic.

You won’t see a Hololens in every office or home quite yet but this could well be the future of computing.  Wearable computers have become common in the real world; Hololens is the next logical step.

David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David’s academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.

 

Follow Inspire on Twitter @inspireltd and @developersos

Microsoft Hololens, The Evolving Web
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