HoloLens headphones from Microsoft These are the latest versions moon of company; an augmented reality device designed to overlay computer-generated digital images in real-time user vision. It’s been available in the US and Canada since March, but last week the company finally opened pre-orders for headphones in the UK and invited me to try it.
First of all, let’s eliminate the obligatory responsibility: this is not a consumer product. Yes, the company has introduced consumer applications, such as a demonstration of augmented reality Minecraft and other games, but it is a commercial device in the first place.
It is also not officially available yet. While you can book a HoloLens unit, these are just development kits designed to allow software creators and companies to start producing applications for the Windows Holographic headset operating system. You will also need money to get one: it costs over GBP 2,700 each .
However, once you put them in, it’s easy to see where all that money went. While development kits for Headphones virtual reality What the Oculus Rift Yes HTC Vive They looked like boxes and unfinished, the quality of the HoloLens construction is amazing. The design and finish of the headphones make it feel like a sophisticated premium unit, much closer to a finished product than other prototypes or early development kits I’ve seen.
Microsoft HoloLens Practice: Futuristic Design
It is also very well designed in terms of weight distribution and fit. Other VR headsets tend to feel heavy in the face and become uncomfortable after long periods of use, but HoloLens uses a counterweight system similar to that of PlayStation VR . Most of the unit is not actually supported on the head, but is attached to a second concentric band around the circumference of the main body, which can be adjusted to fit the user.
That being said, my unit needed a bit of adjustment and I found myself playing with it repeatedly during the demonstration session, although this may be due to the fact that I was wearing it with glasses.
Fortunately, its adjustment is very easy and intuitive. The inner band can be adjusted with a dial on the back, while you can move the viewfinder closer or further away from the eyes and, once it was seated comfortably, I did not feel that I was in danger of slipping.
Instead of using dedicated peripherals, HoloLens has voice and gesture commands, the main method of interaction being called «Air Tap». Simply point the visor at whatever you want to interact with, then bring your thumb and forefinger together to «click» on it. Don’t worry if it seems too much Minority ratio – It also has Bluetooth support, so you can connect a keyboard for traditional input, if you prefer.
Audio is provided through a series of built-in speakers, which provide positional sound based on the location of the holographic object in the room. The accuracy is good, as is the volume – the speakers are loud enough to hear perfectly clearly, but not loud enough to disturb anyone else in the room.
However, the most impressive feature is that HoloLens is not tied. Unlike all other high-end headphones, the HoloLens does not need a thick umbilical cord to function. In fact, it should not be associated with a computer at all – the unit is completely autonomous, with all the calculations performed by the «holographic processing unit» or HPU integrated by HoloLens.
This is a serious game changer; Without having to connect it to a powerful computer or create a large space to use it, HoloLens is much more versatile. Because it is actually portable, employees can use it in the field, opening up a number of business use cases.
I haven’t noticed that the device’s performance is faltering or having problems at any point in our time, although it’s worth noting that we don’t yet have a clear indication of HoloLens processing capabilities and none of the demonstrations seemed particularly tiring. . .
Microsoft HoloLens Practice – Visual field problems
However, HoloLens has a major problem and this is the small field of view (FOV). While the clear viewfinder means you can see your surroundings perfectly, the actual frame in which the holographic content is viewed is a small subset of your field of view.
It is roughly equivalent to watching a 24-inch monitor from about a meter away. It may not seem like much, but when viewing room-size or large-format content, it may seem like you’re trying to watch a movie through a cardboard tube. I also found that the location of the frame was a little strange – it was just above the center of my vision, which means I spent a lot of time tilted my head down to see the key content. However, this could simply be a matter of calibrating or adjusting the headphones.
The limited visual field is particularly annoying after using virtual reality, where the user’s visual field is much closer to real life, but this is partly a matter of attitude. Virtual reality is very encouraging to get close to anything you interact with, while HoloLens works best when you step back and look at the big picture. In fact, you get about a foot from the real image and it will disappear as its proximity begins to interfere with HoloLens sensors.
On the other hand, once you’ve overcome the problems with the small field of view, the image quality of HoloLens is amazing. Since augmented reality is a very new field, even more than virtual reality, the screen itself is expected to be a bit rough around the edges. However, you would be wrong: in terms of image quality, HoloLens is the same as virtual reality headphones for consumers.
As part of our practice, they led me to some experiences that Microsoft used to showcase HoloLens capabilities. They weren’t very interactive businesses, basically I was just clicking through a 3D presentation, but they showed some of the more interesting applications.
The first demonstration we tried was an anatomical experience developed in partnership with Case Western Reserve University, which guided us through the different body systems. The skeletal structure, muscle groups and cardiovascular system were reproduced with excellent detail and image quality, including a close-up of the heart that really allowed us to look inside the valves.
This type of use case is the most obvious and widely postulated benefit of AR and VR headphones: it allows students and pupils to get a detailed and interactive look at a topic that would be difficult and / or expensive to play with in life. Real. A similar application involves allowing designers and architects to view products and plans in 3D space without having to do any modeling or prototyping.
PowerPoint with a difference
A second example showed me how HoloLens can be used to create and deliver presentations, showing an in-store display for a fictitious watch brand. Assets can be dragged and dropped into the presentation and there was even a virtual teleprompter to make sure you can keep in touch while you still have the notes on hand.
You can also collaborate with other HoloLens users, who are represented by ghostly colored figures. In a rather innovative twist, you can also see exactly where they are looking, thanks to a beam of light that represents their gaze.
Always reliable Skype
These collaborative uses are suggested less often, but for our money they are probably the most useful. Skype works immediately (like all Universal Windows Platform applications), which means that any maintenance worker or engineer who is facing a particularly difficult job can simply use a HoloLens and receive advice from colleagues around the world. . the first person looks at the problem.
Similarly, having a business meeting through HoloLens means that you can bring 3D mapping data, product and brand assets, and other digital information in a way that was not possible until now. More importantly, it doesn’t separate you from the rest of the world, which means you can still communicate with real-world colleagues and use physical tools at the same time.
Microsoft Hololens practice: Is HoloLens suitable for the job?
HoloLens feels like something that could very easily be integrated into the workflow of most companies and there is a genuine value proposition there. It is certainly very impressive, as indicated by the number of companies that already use it. Customers include Thyssen-Krupp, Audi, Japan Airlines and many more.
However, there is a major hurdle that prevents Microsoft’s AR headphones from being ready for the big moment, and that is FOV. Because the rest of your vision is unobstructed, you are always acutely sensitized to the visual field limited by the fact that whatever you look at will suddenly reach the air. This can make for a frustrating experience, just because the rest of the headphones have a lot of polish and potential.
Given the limitations and design issues mentioned above, it is clear that HoloLens is still a long way from a finished product. I would have liked to test the hardware a bit more, in addition to testing how well UWP applications work; After all, Microsoft’s record for compatibility is not exactly the best.
However, based on my initial experiences, I can say for sure that HoloLens will seriously revolutionize the future of the computer. It won’t replace traditional desktops anytime soon, but Microsoft has no doubt offered a slice of the future.