Today I tried Hololens, and it was awesome
Well, as you could guess from the title - I tried Hololens, it totally blew me away, and what's more important, I was amazed even more, than when I first tried VR, and that is exactly what I want to talk about today.
In a nutshell, Microsoft Hololens is an Augmented Reality device which basically consists of normal glasses + an extra layer, which is used for projection. The glasses have a bunch of 3d scanners and motion trackers, so Hololens does an amazing job of figuring out your surroundings.
More importantly, everything, that you've seen on the promo videos - is true. It really works like that. For example - the launcher on the screenshot above looks almost identical, to what I've seen myself. And it's mind-blowing.
What is it for?
The main question everyone ask is "What might you need Hololens for?" well... that's kinda tough question. Due to the price of $3k and still being a prototype I can't say that it's a must-buy for anyone, but i can see how it can make life better for someone, who works with 3d models of any sort: designers, 3d-artists, architectures, etc. Hololens does an amazing job of placing holograms in your surroundings, which you can attach to your walls, desk, floor and ceiling, if you want.
There is no "desktop" in Hololens. Everything is placed in a 3d environment you're currently being in. Imagine this: you wake up, get to your computer, put Hololens on, and now you have an extra browser window on a wall behind your desk, a realtime preview of a 3d model you're currently working on right by your side, a notification bar on the other wall and a bunch of space stations and stuff like that on the ceiling, because why not?
It reminded me of holograms from Iron Man movies, it looks and works exactly like that. You can fill your surroundings with stuff and it will all work perfectly and without any wires. It works purely on the headset itself, which makes it even more awesome.
All the interactions are made with your hands. You move the cursor with your sight and then just perform a click gesture in the air, which gets caught by motion trackers in the glasses and it performs the action. It required some time to figure out the most effective way to do that "click", but after some practice - it worked flawlessly.
Real world applications
Fun fact, but the thing that amazed me the most was not a quality of projection or anything like that, but the scanning process which you perform before playing games. The headset overlays the grid on top of your walls and floor, which makes you feel like you're somewhere else, but still see other people around, and that is a true glimpse of the future. If it can do this so great in realtime - then It should be able to overlay stuff on top of buildings and items in real world on the fly. Remember all those "virtual reality" videos, where everything is replaced by QR codes and without proper glasses looks bland and boring, but with those is filled with colors and info? That is what I felt there. It's a feeling of something bigger.
Sure, we'll see a couple of generational leaps before it will even have a chance to become comfortable and affordable enough for a regular person, but when it happens, I can only imagine how the world would look like. There was a cool video with AR, which became viral recently. And that hands-on session with Hololens made me feel like such a world is not impossible anymore. The day, when we will be surrounded by holograms is coming, Hololens made me 100% sure that it will come sooner, than anyone can expect.
In this article I keep repeating that Hololens itself is not the thing that will bring us forward, but the technology behind it will. There is a huge problem with the current device - viewing angles.
You see, Hololens are made of two sets of glass: the protective one, and the one that sits inside and handles all the projections. And that inner glass is a lot smaller and it's flat, that's why it can cover only a small rectangular area in front of you, so the holograms are being cut off not reaching the edges of your field of view, and that is what breaks the immersion. To make it work, Microsoft will need to figure out how to make the projection cover all the outer glasses area, to make it feel real. Until then - it will be just an overly expensive prototype.
Anyway. Trying Microsoft Hololens was an amazing experience, which, surprisingly, made me feel the future a lot more, than all the VR headsets. It might not be as stunning in terms of visuals, or immersive, but it's a totally different device, which can, in a span of 10-15 year, change the world dramatically. We're living in a time of some amazing inventions, and I can't wait to see what it all turns into. Hopefully the world won't become an anti-utopia straight from Deus Ex games, but who knows.