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5 Things You Need To Know About Microsoft’s New Hologram Goggles

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As Google Glass makes its awkward retreat and Oculus Rift steps tentatively towards a commercial release, a gap in the market – and on your face – may just have been filled.

HoloLens is a new headset from Microsoft, unveiled as the big surprise at the company’s Windows 10 launch event. If you’re thinking that the company is late to the party then think again, as the device takes an all new approach to futuristic eyewear.

Described as “the most advanced holographic computer the world has ever seen,” HoloLens is a means of integrating holograms into real-world environments. The ambitious promo reveals any number of applications – from playing Minecraft on your dining room table to visualising art concepts and visiting faraway lands.

So, what else is there to know about Microsoft’s holographic headset?

1. This isn’t virtual reality

Unlike Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard – HoloLens is not a virtual reality headset. Instead, Microsoft are pioneering a type of augmented or ‘mixed reality’ experience in which the ‘fake’ images overlay rather than replace what’s really there. What’s most fascinating about HoloLens is that those images can also be interacted with through gestures, giving you the full Minority Report experience for as long as you’re wearing the headset.

2. Your favorite apps will become holograms

Universal Windows apps like the Microsoft Office suite will all be available in holographic form, so you can take a break from the screen and visualise documents as though they were physical objects. Windows 10 will also include the APIs allowing developers to make their own holographic apps, opening a world of opportunities for gaming, productivity and more. We can’t wait to see what they dream up.

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3. You can hear holograms too

HoloLens contains an intelligent in-built CPU, GPU and a dedicated holographic processor. The headset also incorporates ‘spatial sound,’ meaning that you’ll be able to hear holograms that are behind you. This might have limited scope when it comes to holographic word processing, but for app developers looking to create immersive experiences it opens the door wide open.

4. It’s not a toy (Well, not just a toy)

While Oculus Rift and virtual reality has largely been sold as gaming concepts (even if that’s not strictly true), HoloLens has made a point to show it’s wide-ranging potential from the very beginning. The promo video shows the technology in a number of different work environments – from design and architecture, to offering remote guiding with annotations in thin air.

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5. It’s not ready…yet

Microsoft aren’t telling us much yet in terms of release dates, but they do promise HoloLens will arrive within the Windows 10 timeframe. That could be later this year, but equally it might not be until 2016. Relying entirely on gestures and Siri-like voice commands, it’s important they get those things right – as those features could be the making or breaking of the device.

To learn more about Microsoft’s mixed reality headset, visit the official HoloLens website.

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