The Windows 10 presentation and the Microsoft presentation took me completely by surprise. Windows 10 and the Xbox gaming experience, the nice integration of Steam into the Xbox app and other neat little features. Let’s not forget the Microsoft Surface Hub, all in all not too shabby.
Let’s get back to my main point. Everyone has been all over the Oculus Rift for the last year or so, and VR in general. Recently even Samsung released their version of a VR headset, Gear VR. Personally I think that Gear VR is a complete waste of your money. You are limited to Apps on a closed software eco system and you are limited to one manufacturer, and at the moment one phone. All aboard the fail boat. Also all these VR headsets promise only 1080p resolution split in half, each half for each eye. In an age where UHD televisions will be taking over soon, and where 2560×1440/1600 is pretty much the norm for computer monitors, VR headsets have a little catching up to do. Next gen PC video cards will be able to handle UHD gaming as well. Also I’d like to mention the Canadian equivalent of the Oculus, the Totem VR by a Canadian company from Montreal.
Then there is the fact that VR is very anti-social. You close your senses off to the rest of the world and delve into one just by yourself.
Insert the Microsoft HoloLens. Have a look at the commercial.
This isn’t just a device for entertainment, this is also a collaboration tool. A multipurpose device that uses Augmented Reality (AR) to display computer generated images, and video streams around your home. Microsoft had to actually create a new Processing Unit for this. A processor which measures and calculates your surroundings in order to render images and sounds via the HoloLens and it makes sure they are rendered in the appropriate space. I’m talking about the new HPU or Holographic Processing Unit.
The applications for this processor alone are amazing. New mapping technologies, and new ways to map areas. Imagine a quadrocopter fitted with one of these HPUs sending back telemetry data in real time, you could map and navigate areas that were previously inaccessible to humans. It is said that NASA is using the HoloLens as a collaboration tool for it’s Mars mission.
Surely this is a hit for Microsoft, I personally can not wait to get my hands on one of these devices. I have shifted from contemplating getting a VR headset to most definitively getting a HoloLens. Well played Microsoft. Get your wallets ready.
UPDATE 2016/03/09: Never mind the Hololens, Microsoft over promised and under delivered. The Hololens is a steaming pile of shit. The HTC VIVE came out swinging and I pre-ordered that. Room scale VR is where it’s at at the moment.