HoloLens: Creating a New Dimension for Microsoft?

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Feb 23, 2015

Tony Stark: [looks at non-holographic monitors] How does fury even see these?

Agent Hill: He turns
Tony: Sounds exhausting.

Yes, Tony, it really does. And it seems like the people over Microsoft (MSFT, Financial) think so, too, because they seem to be giving JARVIS a run for its money….or well trying at least to.

Making most sci-fan’s biggest fascination a reality, the geeks at Microsoft have announced HoloLens, an augmented reality computer platform that will be augmented in the Windows 10 OS. And we are so glad they did.

So what is HoloLens?

HoloLens is Microsoft’s attempt at bringing fantasy into reality. Instead of viewing technology through a screen, the HoloLens enables the user to view a 3D spatially crafted model of the technology interacting with reality. The transparent lens uses a Holographic Processing Unit to transform the applications to suite our real-live world. If the demonstration video is to be believed, it is every hologram based science fiction you have ever seen, made reality.

Source: Microsoft Official Site

How it is different from peers?

Tech enthusiasts would likely find many similarities between HoloLens and products like Google’s (GOOG, Financial) Google Glass or VR headsets like Facebook’s (FB, Financial) Oculus Rift and Sony’s (SNE, Financial) Morpheus. They would be somewhat right, and also very very wrong.

Where Google Glass was little more than a wearable smartphone, hyped and glorified, Microsoft’s novel invention is so much more. The glass, which failed to capture much public interest, could take pictures, run applications, run web searches, etc. It had no scope or potential to manipulate a virtual model of the real world in real time.

The HoloLens does. It allows you to shape your reality as you go.

But unlike the VR headsets which primarily plunges you into a virtual reality, completely cut-off from the real world, the HoloLens lets you enjoy the best of both.

The potentials

Unlike the Rift or Morpheus, the HoloLens’ interactive interface allows the device to not be limited to gaming only. Truly, there could be no limit to the uses of this product. If Microsoft manages it to make it reasonably priced, we don’t see why artists, teachers, even the military cannot benefit from this.

Instead of trying to imagine what another wall would look like, the home owner could place a virtual one there and view it. Instead of imagining strategic positions, military officers can see the scenario. The product truly expands the limits of imagination.

KZero estimates that the Virtual Reality market could generate over $5 billion revenue annually by 2018 while Eon reality estimates that the AR market will be worth $660 million. Although, this is a pittance compared to Microsoft’s annual revenue generations, the market, worth nearly nothing today, is expected to grow by leaps and bounds. Undoubtedly, when launched, Microsoft will tie in the HoloLens with Xbox and PC. The gaming market, virtually untouched by Facebook and Google, could revitalize the company’s failing top line and even make it a strong contender against Sony’s VR efforts.

Potential setbacks

While we agree that the HoloLens has us completely impressed, there are a few issues which concern us. The tech giant has yet to resolve the issue of "touching" the virtual apps, instead relying on gestures and voice for that. However, we assume Intel’s (INTC, Financial) depth sensing cameras would quickly solve this issue.

The real worrying thing, though, is Microsoft’s penchant for not following through with the innovative ideas they display, as evidenced by the "Surface" tabletop projection-based touch screen. The product, promised at CES 2008 was never launched and finally the name was reused in another device.

The near-complete project of the HoloLens makes us hope this won’t be the case with this latest idea.

In conclusion

Microsoft certainly reminded us why it was once the premier corporation for computing ideas. Instead of trying to get into the already saturated smartwatch game, the tech giant learned from its mistakes and returned to the market with nothing short of brilliance.

While the HoloLens hasn’t been tested much yet, the innovative idea behind the project is sure to boost up sales. The widespread applications are most definitely a plus. We are sure to be keeping our eyes glued to Microsoft from now on.