Microsoft’s brand-new device, the HoloLens, is ready to enter the augmented reality market. Yet with so many competitors to be mindful of, there’s one question on everyone’s mind. Is the HoloLens really capable of delivering the experience augmented reality enthusiasts are actually expecting?
An augmented reality headset’s aim is to merge the real and the digital world together, creating a conjoined reality where digital objects can’t be discerned from real ones. This nigh-sci-fi scenario isn’t as far-fetched as you’d expect, considering that companies such as Oculus and Samsung have already achieved complete immersion with their virtual-reality devices.
Augmented reality, virtual-reality’s somewhat smaller, cuter sister, doesn’t aim to completely immerse its user in a virtual environment. It merely proposes to enhance real environments with relevant information that AR headset wearers may wish to access.
Equipped with state-of-the-art sensors to record hand gestures as well as a microphone to capture voice commands, the HoloLens also uses a gyroscope, a magnetometer and an accelerometer in order to accurately understand its wearer’s head movements.
A run-of-the-mill CPU and GPU wouldn’t have been enough to process all the information being captured by the HoloLens, so Microsoft engineers used what they call Holographic Processing Units. It’s because of this HPU that the HoloLens can smoothly process all the information it collects.
Since the Build Developers Conference, this AR headset has been one of the main attractions. But it seems that there are some setbacks in the HoloLens’ design which can end up disappointing. Despite not being as thin as Google Glass, the HoloLens also has an unfortunately narrow visual field which results in a “blinders” effect.
You’d expect that such a minor issue wouldn’t account for much in the overall achievement of augmented reality, but the level of immersion greatly hindered when the visual field isn’t correctly calibrated.
The HoloLens wasn’t designed with the sole purpose of being a gaming headset, however, it was intended to be adapted as one if need be. Because of this narrow field of vision, the gaming experience will suffer overall.
And since the HoloLens is expected to cost approximately $400 a piece, which comes close to a gaming console, one may begin to wonder whether this breakthrough AR-headset shouldn’t be refined before reaching the public.
Further development could contribute to a field of vision expansion, especially since the current AR headset models aren’t believed to be the final versions of the HoloLens. Other prototypes of the HoloLens showcased in January did have a wider field of vision. Perhaps for the sake of battery life improvements or performance boosts, the narrow vision field had to be accepted.
Whether Microsoft is rushing to prepare a product for people to start experimenting with or improvements are still on the horizon remains to be seen. A finalized version of the headset will most certainly put all these rumours to rest.
Image Source: Engaget