We tested the Microsoft Hololens: a window on a new world

Microsoft has unveiled the HoloLens for the first time in January 2015, during a presentation that was reserved for Windows 10. The idea immediately seduced the audience present: a pair of glasses that renders holograms in the field of view of the user, which has the effect of extending the space virtually. In contrast to virtual reality goggles, the immediate environment of the user is still visible.

hololens visual
the HoloLens displays holograms. Microsoft ©

the HoloLens: a mixed reality

the technical term used to define the reality of this system, it’s augmented reality. “Say what?”, you might say. We let Microsoft response: the HoloLens offers a mixed virtual reality experience. Because the modified – or augmented – reality only adds information within the environment, holograms of the HoloLens can interact with the surroundings. To this end, the HoloLens is equipped with cameras and sensors that deal with the immediate environment. The Holo Blocks application is most likely to demonstrate this interaction: it allows the user to place several blocks within a room – not only on land, but on a table, for example. These small blocks can also fall from the table: virtual objects, too, are subject to the laws of gravity.

With a weight of barely less than 580 grams, the HoloLens is a really heavy helmet that leaves marks on your forehead. And for good reason: in her breast there is not only a system of optical restitution but a whole 10 Windows PC, turning thanks to its Intel Atom processor and 2 GB of RAM. A processor specifically designed for the treatment of holographic data (or HPU 1.0) helps the display of holograms. The HoloLens should have to charge around 2 hours.

ANDROIDPIT hololens mark
the HoloLens will leave a mark on your forehead. © AndroidPIT

two aspects in particular make these impressive holograms. On the one hand, they are really 3D, and on the other, they are stable and quite discreet in a room. Therefore, it is very easy to move around them, or to unlock other levels are walking on it. The so recurrent problem in virtual reality, or the effect of grid, is really not noticeable on the HoloLens.

hololens construction
HoloLens: useful for the design and construction works. Microsoft ©

putting the HoloLens, it’s almost as if you could see through a window overlooking an augmented reality. I use the term ‘window’ in the proper sense, and this is also my most big – and probably only – flat: on promotional photos, we believe a user of HoloLens can see holograms in the environment. In fact this is not the case. Since holograms appear with HoloLens display, they do not cover the entirety of the human field of vision. Where the HoloLens display is not, we’ll see… it’s just, simply, the reality. What this entails is the cup of some large holograms. In the following image, the holo-space is determined approximately (!) In the shots, Microsoft Unveils the true aspect of the HoloLens interface, including when moving the head.

hololens 4 note
always according to the promo images, holograms are, in general, larger than the window itself. Microsoft ©

Windows 10 holographic mode can “pin” the applications on a wall, such as a browser or a game. The HoloLens memorizes the location of an application and the watch again when we look at the appropriate place. In the demonstration room, for example, a Twitter timeline and a window were on the wall.

The whole system is controlled by our actions. Together, the thumb and forefinger serve “click” of the mouse. You loosen the fist? It’s the Windows button. Actions that it will take to make, since targeting in a virtual environment is, initially, a bit unsettling.

hololens coop
the HoloLens makes it entirely possible new forms of collaboration. Microsoft ©

the reduced field of view was particularly challenging when the demo: to give an overview of the known universe program has posted our Galaxy, the milky way. You could also draw on information and images on a given astronomical phenomena. But the small window of the hologram ensured that we often have partial information in the eye, and to see the milky way in a complete way, look around in the room. That said, the HoloLens remains an excellent educational tool, because technology now allows to visualize complex combinations in three dimensional space.

hololens mixed reality
HoloLens: a whole new set of possibilities for games. Microsoft ©

currently, the HoloLens caters primarily to developers and professional clients. Individuals do not. The price is probably quite prohibitive to dissuade a lot of purchase: the developers version is available for 3 299 euros, while the version in the trade has a RRP of 5 489 euros.

Preliminary conclusions on the HoloLens

a quarter of an hour, it is not really enough time to judge the possibilities of this platform. That said, these minutes were enough to see if Microsoft was on the right track: in the future, some applications of augmented reality will be part of the daily classes, universities and businesses. In the middle of the design and construction, a HoloLens easier considerably on projects in these environments. Of course, use privately remains possible, but in view of the prohibitive cost for the moment, the HoloLens is not ready to invest public trade immediately. One wonders if there is much to gain from applications of AR home. For video streaming or the recovery of information, no doubt – but we can just as well the usual technology.

With the HoloLens, Microsoft gives birth to an impressive platform, which already won the support of its first generation of users. In the long term, prices will drop and technology improves. And then, the descendants of the HoloLens might well impose their presence. For now, my future looks promising, although it will take some time to make a real impact on some areas.

What is your opinion on the HoloLens? Would you be interested to buy one?

Note: in view of the time extremely short demo, we could not take our own photos.

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