Microsoft and Asus could team up on new HoloLens augmented reality hardware

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Asus Wants to Build Its Own Version of Microsoft’s HoloLens.

Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset won’t ship to developers until early next year, but the company is already looking to PC makers for future versions.HoloLens is definitely Microsoft’s most exciting product and the biggest innovation it has created in a long time, but for the moment, the Redmond-based tech giant is yet to release a consumer version that would allow us to experience the world of holograms and benefit from all the features that the company has presented at its latest events.

And yet, while Microsoft needs more time to bring HoloLens to the market (a developer version for $3,000 will become available in early 2016), others might actually step in and develop their very own versions of the augmented-reality glasses that could hit the market a lot sooner at more affordable prices. Microsoft’s Windows and devices head Terry Myerson said the decision is ultimately up to Asus, with CEO Jonney Shih saying the company was “still evaluating” the possibility. Asus is one of the companies that are very interested in such a project, and in an interview with CNET, company executives have confirmed that such a project is currently on the table. This appears to be Microsoft’s first direct acknowledgement that outside hardware makers can build on the company’s augmented reality platform, which is technically called Windows Holographic. Microsoft has already stated that with HoloLens, it just wants to start a new device category, which could then be available for other manufacturers too, so the company might actually work together with Asus on their own glasses.

At first, Microsoft will build its own HoloLens development kit device for software developers, priced at $3000 and launching in the first quarter of 2016. If this is indeed the case, the new device is expected to be much more affordable than HoloLens and depending on how much Microsoft is ready to share with partners, it could be slightly different in terms of features.

The device uses advanced sensors to map holographic images on the wearer’s surroundings, from building plans to diagnostic information to a truly 3D version of Minecraft. The possibility of an Asus partnership raises some new questions: Will Microsoft continue making its own hardware alongside third-party vendors, as it does with Surface devices? Why this matters: By bringing in third-party hardware makers, it seems that Microsoft is trying to establish Windows Holographic as the de facto standard for augmented reality, similar to how Windows dominated the personal computer market. Still, there are a lot of unknowns about how this plan will take shape, and plenty of competition from startups such as Magic Leap, and to some extent from virtual reality companies such as OculusVR.

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