It’s a cruel world sometimes, being subjected to 3 hours of Microsoft executives talking about the latest version of Windows, just to keep abreast of the latest tech news. So did Windows 10 live up to the hype, will there be a new desktop browser, and were there any surprises?
Kind of. Yes. And YES.
HoloLens augmented reality goggles
We can skip all the boring stuff about how Windows 10 will adapt dynamically its behaviour and user interface for desktop, tablet and smartphone users. We can skip all the details about how Microsoft is “enriching our lives, making it easier to seamlessly connect on any platform and device”. We can ignore the way that literally everything was “an experience” (“giving you great Windows experiences”, “here’s another brilliant app experience”, and on, and on).
We can get straight to the surprise announcement that Microsoft has been working on a holographic virtual reality/augmented reality heads-up display. What, I hear you say?
Microsoft has been working in secret for years on a special wrap-around augmented reality headset called the HoloLens, which displays computer graphics and video on the built-in semi-transparent glasses. This makes things appear to be overlaid on the real, physical world, as if you could reach out and touch them.
The concept is somewhat similar to (but more advanced than) Google Glass, but isn’t intended to be worn by geeks walking about their every day lives (Glass holes) that everyone pokes fun at.
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One of the Microsoft “slacker generation” execs introduced the new device with an entertaining ten minutes of techno-babble and flowery, poetic language – he really sounded as if he was introducing a new technology that would herald a brave new world of advanced artificially intelligent machines, autonomous robots with frickin’ laser beams for eyes (sorry if you don’t get the Austin Powers reference) and tiny nanobots. He wasn’t, but it sounded like he was building up to the greatest advance in the history of technology that the world has ever seen.
The HoloLens looks like the kind of device for home use or perhaps in a business setting, to play games, to view complex data (such as engineering designs and 3D models), or to just have fun designing 3D objects that you can then print on a 3D printer. They demonstrated HoloLens by designing a quad-copter drone using their “HoloStudio” software, and filmed with a special camera rig so the audience could see through the eyes of the device.
It was quite impressive, admittedly. Who cares if it looks a bit bulky? The HoloLens isn’t the kind of gadget you’ll use walking down the street, or to check emails in one corner of your eye while pretending to talk to someone at a dinner party.
Unfortunately, there was no word on pricing and availability of the HoloLens, but Microsoft said it will be priced competitively for consumers and businesses, so hopefully it won’t cost thousands of dollars.
Oh, I nearly forgot. It’s all powered by Windows 10. Oh, and CEO Satya Nadella gave a speech at the end.
Let us know in the comments what you make of the HoloLens, and whether you’d consider buying one. Perhaps you’re a gamer, and can see the opportunities for the device?