Quinn: An invigorated Microsoft could make Silicon Valley better

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft’s Holographic Vision Triggers a Flashback.

The 2 minute 12 second Microsoft-made movie about HoloLens, the augmented and virtual reality headset it revealed this week, is a classic of the genre, showing some of the wild things people might one day do in their homes and offices with the technology. The clip, posted on YouTube and shown above, shows a man playing Minecraft, its landscapes and buildings painted across the vertical and horizontal surfaces of a living room. More than five years ago at a big games conference, Microsoft revealed the technology that it eventually named Kinect, a device that used cameras and other sensors to let people play games with gestures and voice.

Seeing the technology for the first time, the director Steven Spielberg said, felt like “an historic moment, a moment as significant as the transformation from the square-shaped movie screen to Cinemascope, and then to IMAX.” That device, too, was unfinished, along with the games that were supposed to exploit it. No matter, though: Microsoft whipped up a short movie to show a model family, with impeccable grooming and skin, playing all manner of games using Kinect. In the movie, it was easy to miss the disclaimer that said, “Product vision: Actual features and functionality may vary.” Initially, Kinect, sold as an add-on to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game console, was a stunning hit.

In the three months after it was released in Nov. 2010, Microsoft said it sold 10 million of the devices, earning it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest-selling consumer electronics device. After slow sales of the console, mostly because of the added cost of Kinect, Microsoft reversed course and began selling a cheaper Xbox One without the device. Now it’s hard to find many developers bothering to write games for the Kinect, an understandable decision since they can no longer count on the device being present in homes with an Xbox One.

What’s also clear is that many consumers didn’t feel the value of a Kinect justified the extra $100 Microsoft was charging to get it with the Xbox One. There were wires dangling everywhere from the headset, some of them tethered to a heavy box that you had to hang around your neck during the demonstration.

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