by Angel Cortez
HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality (AR) smart glass, seems like the future of computing. HoloLens is the first cordless, self-contained augmented reality computer running on Windows 10. The HoloLens is similar to Google Glass, which uses AR technology as well.
Microsoft HoloLens is made up of specialized components which, assembled, enable Holographic Computing. The internal HPU of the HoloLens (Holographic Processing Unit) allows for processing of large amounts of data per second (terabytes of data ). All these components come together to allow for a freer and more interactive experience with Holograms.
So what is the difference between augmented and virtual reality (AR vs VR)? Virtual reality immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, by stimulating their vision and hearing. An example of a virtual reality device would be Facebook’s Oculus. Augmented reality differs because it adds an extra dimension over virtual reality by showing the real world around the user with a Hologram overlaid. AR can also totally immerse the user, just like VR, by simply displaying pixels everywhere with transparency to the real world. In the virtual world, users are advised to stay stationary to avoid harm from the physical world they cannot see.
Unlike its competitors, HoloLens is not just a visor connected to a computer; HoloLens is a standalone computer. HoloLens contains an Intel Airmont (14nm) processor with four logical processors and is 64-bit capable, a 16,500 mWh battery, a GPU with 114 MB of memory, 918 MB of RAM, and a first of its kind HPU. With 18 sensors built-in that help flood the 14 nm Intel Airmont processor with terabytes of information to process, it is impressive, to say the least.
One of these sensors includes a depth camera that has a field of vision which spans 120 by 120 degrees. The depth of field allows for the HoloLens to sense what your hands are doing even when they are out of direct field of view. Another sensor tracks where the wearer is looking, so that it may adjust the Holograms accordingly. Yet another sensor detects the wearer’s movements. These sensors help track the hands, so the hands can act as an input system. In addition, the user can interact with physical or virtual objects, which are detected by the camera sensor. These sensors also allow for the detection of pre-programmed gestures, which enables the tracking of user movements.
Microsoft HoloLens has a User Interface so that it can process voice, gaze, and gestures as input commands. The processor then takes these modes of input and computes accordingly.
Projection of the Holograms is done using the HUD (head-up display) method. This is done using two individual Nano projectors located at each side of the head unit and the semitransparent visor, which then reflect the image as light on the user’s eyes. Additionally, HoloLens has two displays. These two displays are transparent so that the wearer can see the real world behind the virtual object. To create a projected HoloLens image, light particles bounce around millions of times in the so called light engine of the device.
With the development of Windows 10, Microsoft revealed that it is the first platform to support Holographic Computing, with APIs that enable gaze, gesture, voice, and environmental understanding on an untethered device.
The Microsoft HoloLens is packed with Sci-fi like features. HoloLens brings high-definition holograms to life in the world around you, where they integrate with your physical places, spaces, and things. Your digital content and creations will be more immersive when they come to life in the surrounding world, and you can interact with them via HoloLens.
Microsoft HoloLens is more than a simple heads-up display, and its transparency means you bring the digital world into the real world around you. High-definition holograms integrated with the physical world will unlock new ways to create, communicate, work, and play.
HoloLens creates all-new ways to teach and learn. Most us would agree it’s easier to show than to tell, but why not do both? With Microsoft HoloLens, friends and colleagues can help you with difficult tasks using HoloNotes in Skype. It’s almost like having your help be right there in the room with you.
HoloLens will revolutionize how you design and develop the future. As holograms, your digital content will be as real as physical objects in the room. For the first time, holograms can become practical tools of daily life. Imagine, instead of going into a store to try on a new dress you could have the dress appear right in front of you. Or imagine, designing home renovations without every needing to leave the comfort of your home.
HoloLens will change the way we travel. With Microsoft HoloLens we will be able to explore the rainforests of the Amazon, the surface of Mars, or the deepest depths of our planets oceans without ever having to risk bodily harm.
With the power of HoloLens, we will be able to visualize what our designs will look like in the physical world, whether it’s a new pool for your home, a toy for your children, or a new creation for work.
Some of the advantages of Microsoft HoloLens include: ease of use and wear, sensitivity and responsiveness to the prescience of people, and practical applications from battlefield to the drawing board. The Microsoft HoloLens is more than useful technology for designing and facilitating future innovation.
Many people attempt to draw comparisons between the Microsoft HoloLens and the Google Glass, but there are apparent and significant differences between the two products. For example, Google Glass was designed to perform similar functions to those of a modern Smartphone. Like a Smartphone it supports Apps, takes photos and video. In the end, Google Glass is an expensive version of a handheld device. In addition, Google Glass supports virtual reality where users disconnect from the real world, but HoloLens users see and immerse themselves in both the digital and physical world in front of them. HoloLens users can walk around and talk to others without worrying about bumping into walls or any eye strain.
However, there are some clear drawbacks to the Microsoft HoloLens. First, it can easily be damaged or broken due to all the sensitive sensors (18 sensors). Second, using the device while driving is not recommended (may lead to car accidents). Third, there are some privacy concerns due to the onboard camera of the HoloLens. Finally, the price of the device ($3,000 for the developer Edition and $5,000 for the Commercial Suite).
All in all, the Microsoft HoloLens brings a whole new realm of possibilities to both the digital world and the physical world. The era of holographic computing is here to stay. Microsoft is helping shift the digital spectacle from your pocket to your eyes.