Developers Can Check Out HoloLens at Microsoft’s NYC Store
Microsoft opens HoloLens showcase in its New York City flagship store.
At the studio, software developers will see a video and get hands-on demonstrations. After spending most of the year whetting the public’s appetite with demonstration videos, is giving people the chance to try out its HoloLens augmented reality (AR) headset devices. It’s been nearly a year since we first strapped a prototype to our faces, and as the tech goliath prepares to unleash a first batch of units to developers in the coming months, I was invited to check out just how far the technology has come. Another shows the technology’s potential in presentations and sales, using a luxury watch as an example of how holograms can give potential customers more insights into features. As a kid who grew up with a hand-me-down rabbit-ear TV and a rotary phone, I sometimes wonder if modern-day reality is actually a Jetsons-like, cyberpunk, Truman Show scifi whose clandestine cameras I’m completely oblivious to.
Between improvements seemingly made since our last hands-on, and after playing Microsoft’s recently debuted augmented reality video game, I’m convinced: We’re entering the age of the hologram. Whitmore pointed out that potential vertical markets for augmented reality include medical training, 3D visualization and product design, rapid prototyping, emergency response training, and more.
And there are still a few pitfalls that still exist: The field-of-vision is still narrow, meaning you can only see holograms directly in front of you. I also didn’t notice any reflective objects in the room bouncing back light that distracted from the illusion — instead, actual objects looked actual objects, and the holograms looked like holograms. There were a couple moments when I felt like the image signal flowing before my eyes was kind of weak; like, the AR images were kind of faint and flickery. It’s just a different kind of fun to see bloodthirsty extraterrestrials orbiting your buddy’s head in real life, or ploughing through your family portrait from ’91 hanging on your parents’ foyer wall and then opening fire.
I’ve truly never played a video game like Project X-Ray before, and so long as Microsoft can make the experience glitch-and-gimmick free, the creative opportunities for developers are limitless. Imagine swinging an AR golf club in your backyard and seeing a holographic golf ball rocket into your annoying neighbour’s window, or setting off holographic fireworks into a night sky.
Granted, the action was all extremely frantic: Enemies buzzed around me constantly and quickly, which required actual dodging and hopping and pivoting to parry their unending sortie. During all that, it was sometimes hard to keep track of them all, because the holograms of my robotic flying foes got weak, started flickering, or were hard to follow in that dinky field of vision. It was a little glitchy — I think it was supposed to be directly on the table like a real watch would sit, but instead the image was really off-center and appeared along the edge of the table.
From there, I could move the cursor with my eyes to different points of interest on the watch: “Here’s what the links are made of,” for example, or info about the battery. The really cool thing about this, from a business presentation standpoint, is that you can actually see where your audience is looking at the hologram — assuming they’re also wearing a HoloLens set, that is. In my case, the big watch face was a focal point for my hypothetical audience, so I was able to use that data and go in and add an interest point that provided a factoid about the face’s composition.
Here, you can download a 3D project you’ve already worked on on a computer, for example, and then create a hologram out of it — and then tweak it augmented reality. For example, you’ll be able to stick your homemade AR sign on a wall next to a real-life painting, or on an odder shape, like the top of an end table or the side of a sofa. I could then use my eye-cursor to select one of the fish, copy and paste him around the vignette, and even blow one of them up to pony-sized proportions. And the quality of the holograms themselves, as well as the accuracy of their placements in the rooms, were at times unreliable and inconsistent, so that needs work. Plus, HoloLens will only be available to developers and commercial buyers in North America for $US3,000 ($4,162) a pop in quarter one of 2016, so it will be a while before it’s even available to Joe Schmoe consumers like you and me.
Until then, know that holograms are here, and that some of the biggest tech companies on planet Earth are working to get them in our hands — even the ones that are staticky and flickering.
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