We used Microsoft HoloLens and it is awesome!

We used Microsoft HoloLens and it is awesome!

Let’s just state it plainly: This tech is really cool, and it is going to change the world. We will also state it plainly that HoloLens is not ready for prime time…yet.

Microsoft set up tightly orchestrated, scripted, and highly secure demonstrations of HoloLens for developers and members of the media. It was a multi-phased affair, and was managed off-site from the Moscone Convention Center where the main conference was being held.

A small group of us were escorted to a hotel near the convention center where we were initially checked on the lobby level. From there we were escorted to the 6th floor of the hotel, of which the entire floor was booked by Microsoft (with exception of spa area which was open to guests). There, we were ushered into a room to get a special media credential.

At that time, we were permitted to take a few pictures of HoloLens, on a behind-the-glass-do-not-touch case. Then, we had to lock our personal belongings, including all smartphones, cameras, smartwatches, et al, into individual lockers before being escorted into yet another room to wait to be escorted again into a presentation tent. To record our impressions, we were given good old fashioned notepads and paper.

HoloLens, Skype, Minecraft, and 3D printing


We used Microsoft HoloLens and it is awesome!
We used Microsoft HoloLens and it is awesome!
We used Microsoft HoloLens and it is awesome!
We used Microsoft HoloLens and it is awesome!
We used Microsoft HoloLens and it is awesome!
We used Microsoft HoloLens and it is awesome!
We used Microsoft HoloLens and it is awesome!
The first stop in the demonstration was a live performance given by Dan and Joe. Joe donned HoloLens while Dan went backstage and manned his PC (running Windows 10 of course). Joe executed a Skype video call with Dan. After showing how the video image (called a card) could be moved and pinned to certain parts of the room, the two then began trading holograms and each could manipulate the virtual space.

One of those holograms was a caricature city skyline of San Francisco. They made some changes to it and then sent it to a 3D printer. After that, Dan showcased a model of the Seattle Space Needle he created in Minecraft. He then passed it to Joe in the HoloLens environment where both of them could manipulate and resize the model. Joe scaled it down, and placed it on a shelf in the make-shift room that was the stage setting.

With the mind-share that Minecraft occupied during the second day of Build, from the Keynote to HoloLens demonstrations, it is clear that the next big chapter for Minecraft is that as a hologram creation environment.

The 27th floor


As soon as that performance was done we gathered our items from their lockers and were escorted again to the elevators and whisked to the 27th floor of the hotel. Like the lower level, Microsoft has booked the entire floor.

After locking our belongings in another set of lockers we were brought into a room to measure our inter-pupillary distance (IPD), the distance between the pupils of our eyes. This is necessary to properly calibrate HoloLens once it is worn to ensure the user can view the images in the stereoscopic eyepieces. That exercise will need to be streamlined to be end-user programmable for HoloLens’ eventual market release.

Once that was done, each individual in our group was escorted (sense the trend?) to a single room (each room guarded by a Microsoft employee outside) with a pair of demo guides to take us on a journey with HoloLens.

Using HoloLens – what is it like?


See our first point: This tech is really cool, and it is going to change the world. The main head band fits on your head at about the same alignment as you might wear a baseball cap. The arms that are attached to the visor are adjustable, allowing you to comfortably place HoloLens the way you might wear eyeglasses.

The “real” world is not obscured at all by HoloLens, and when the augmented elements appear, it is as if they fit in the room perfectly. In this case, software from construction company Trimble was being used, and a scale-model construction rendering was on display.

The integration of HoloLens and the accompanying computer and mouse was excellent, and very intuitive. Interaction with HoloLens is managed by “Gaze, Gestures, and Voice,” what Microsoft calls “GGV.” The gaze is simply what you are looking at, the gesture we used was air-tapping (like clicking a mouse in the air) and it is used in conjunction with where you are looking. The voice part involved leaving a message for someone in a mock construction set-up. The messages appear as virtual post-it notes on various parts of virtual wall.

The imagery as viewed from within HoloLens is extraordinary. It showed absolutely no signs of lag or flutter. Of course these were prototype units running in a carefully prepared demonstration environment. We were not even permitted to hold the unit without an extra set of hands.

The field of vision is a lot narrower than we expected. The holograms are projected in a smaller box overall. Whether this is a technical confinement, or a design decision is not known. The benefit of that is HoloLens does not consume your entire field of view, so you still have your peripheral vision and can maintain situational awareness.

The demonstration was aimed primarily for the enterprise use-case, and while the interface is still a work in progress, it still has commercial and consumer appeal. Much of the demonstration was controlled by one of the guides in the room, but that did not really take anything away from the experience.

Expectations


During its announcement, Microsoft said that HoloLens would be released “within the Windows 10 time frame.” That leaves a wide-open window for when we see a market release of HoloLens.

All the devices Microsoft brought to Build 2015 are prototype builds, so we expect a number of design enhancements and likely technological enhancements before anything becomes available for businesses or consumers. As such, no specifications were provided, no hardware features were revealed, and few questions were answered.

Microsoft did offer that the developers that engaged in more detailed demonstrations had high-praise for the platform. Given Microsoft’s Universal platform for apps, HoloLens has an important role to play.

What we got to use was clearly still a work in progress, but Microsoft is putting considerable resources behind the effort. That is a doubled-edged sword, expectations are being set very high early in development. That means HoloLens must be an undisputed home run once it reaches end-user heads.

Still, this is undoubtedly the future, and Microsoft has set a very high bar. We wrote it twice so far, and will write it again: This tech is really cool, and it is going to change the world.


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35 Comments

1. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

I want this so bad!! As a geek how could you not think this is cool

36. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 2012

Problem is, this hololens is actually a regression from the earlier version, which didn't have such a narrow field of view. Then again it was a body back version. They shouldn't release it as is, since it is too narrow for good use. Read ars to see a review based on a perspective of using both versions.

37. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

I hope they dont add battery to the head, the reports of exploding battries in Phones are scaary enough. and this one can result in death :O let hope not though

2. AnTuTu

Posts: 1595; Member since: Oct 14, 2012

WoW. Microsoft is just doing some great stuff. Really excited about this and Surface Pro 4 :)

13. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

I haven't been this excited for something from Microsoft since Windows 7. I can't wait to see this bad boy in person :D I would be excited for Windows 10 too, but that thought of a lot of drivers won't be supported probably makes me stay away from it.

17. JayFiveAlive

Posts: 67; Member since: May 30, 2014

I wouldn't worry about the drivers. Running it on multiple machines and haven't had any driver related issues. Most drivers auto-installed/weren't needed and any ones that were needed used the same Windows 8 drivers.

22. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

That's great to hear. Thank you for the feedback. Have you had any issues with any software running on Win10? I game and stream sometime on twitch to hang out with my friend. Just wonder if OBS will be affected by win10

30. JayFiveAlive

Posts: 67; Member since: May 30, 2014

I've only done light gaming on it - basically only have installed Steam and played some CS. So not the best thing to judge on, but no issues yet. I've really only tested work software like Office and some proprietary internal stuff, but again no issues yet! Each Tech preview build they release has visual improvements to the desktop, notifications, etc. Feels like it has a ways to go personally, but it's shaping up to be my favorite OS since Win 7.

23. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Yup it even fixed a lenovo driver issue which was awesome, thanks 10

27. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

YUP, I was reading an article not too long ago about employees experiences under the new ceo and all the changes MS as undergone, He made it clear satya is very open minded person to new ideas and steve was closed minded and If steve was still charge hole lens would most likely would never been a thing

3. seven7dust unregistered

Mind blowing stuff , bit I just hope it literally doesn't blow our minds , all this VR stuff is crazy from a health standpoint.

9. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

From that logic we should live in caves without electricity or any signals going trough our bodies lol

16. TBomb

Posts: 1205; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I got the idea that the health standpoint he was referring to was in the fact that a virtual world would be better than the real world for some people because their problems go away, or they create an attachment with something in the virtual world and lose it somehow... which could lead to depression or some other emotional response that is bad for our health.

11. ikenvape

Posts: 306; Member since: May 28, 2014

Or inadvertently walk off a cliff! Seriously though, this is amazing.

4. TMHKR

Posts: 202; Member since: Dec 08, 2012

One question. What kind of sick battery powers this monster?! :D

5. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

dont worry, it have plenty of room to store battery, unlike google glass.. :D

6. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

still hope this things wont cost more than $1500 :-/

7. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Well no keyboard, no screen, no usb ports etc...i am hoping for a 1-1500k price range

14. iosl0ver5eva

Posts: 119; Member since: Jan 16, 2015

That doesn't make sense.. so you would rather pay more when it inevitably could be less? This is phenomena man, no one cares how much money you have

19. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Do you mean 1.5K? Who would pay 1500K? That is just insane amount of money to spent on gadget.

24. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

lol yup meant 1.5k, to early in morn when posting that. so 1000-1500 bucks.

8. Rigbaby

Posts: 98; Member since: Nov 06, 2014

I hope developers actually develop for this beast, it would be a shame to see it disappear due to "lack of use".

10. 87186

Posts: 312; Member since: Aug 01, 2014

I think project Astoria will take care of that. With the extremely easy port process, devs would be silly to alienate themselves from this OS. MS already announced HoloLense devs such as Nasa and Disney!

25. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Well technically they dont really have to. If it is a universal app it should just 'work'. Only specific code would be for gesture recognition. And since the api's are at all levels i dont see why someone wouldnt insert that few lines of code. The voice recognition is cortana api's which is like 5 lines of code per MS devs.

12. gaming64 unregistered

Is this compatible with consoles? Cause I want this for gaming!

28. joevsyou

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

possibility! Minecraft is one of the reason they bought that company. Suppousely this will have it's own hardware, plus cloud power to help with the x1 hardware limits. I wouldn't expect too much games from it though depending on the price. just indie games and possible first party only. Honestly i wouldn't think too much about x1 and would already be looking at the x2. This generation will be shorter than the 360/ps4 life So many studios and publishers complained about the long dev cycle

15. dlsnhuff

Posts: 111; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

The World has been changing all the time. Computer, Atari, smartphone, internet, BMW i8, and now is holo lens. Yes the items / stuffs are changing. But the people are still .... ( "you want to change the world, but you don't wanna to change" )

18. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3098; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

If anything else, Microsoft has put the tech world on notice. They're still the Alpha dog in computing.

26. kurama.

Posts: 85; Member since: Sep 13, 2014

Well I am glad this isn't made by Apple if so it would have been on 10k $ .

34. vergil9

Posts: 517; Member since: Apr 06, 2015

Impossible, Apple will never dish out enough cash to R&D for the development of something actually innovative.

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