BreakingModern — A hologram is a three-dimensional image. That’s the most basic definition. But it doesn’t really do the concept justice. A holographic image taps into the human imagination in ways we are yet to fully understand. Holograms are cool … is probably a good way to describe them.
With the pending release of Windows 10, Microsoft believes it has found a way to use holographic technology in a practical manner as an additional user interface. Microsoft Hololens uses specialized hardware to overlay holographic images onto the real world. The general concept is known as augmented reality.
A New View
Worn on the head like Google Glass or the Oculus Rift, the Hololens will blend holograms with reality. Allowing you to see what is in front of you like a pair of glasses, the Hololens will superimpose holograms on your environment.
For example, let’s say you have your hands deep in sticky biscuit dough when you receive a video call on Google Hangouts or Skype. With the Hololens you can take the call and see the person on the other end on a holographic video screen superimposed into your environment. You don’t have to have a monitor handy and, most importantly, you don’t have to remove your hands from your precious dough.
Microsoft goes to great lengths to explain the practical uses of the Hololens. In one part of its video explaining the power of Hololens and Windows 10, it shows graphic designers manipulating holograms for a really cool looking motorcycle. The implication is that through the use of the powerful Hololens we can work smarter and make better products.
In Microsoft’s collective mind, Hololens is going to change the way we interact with our world.
Okay, I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to any augmented reality claims — I fully admit to and, in fact, embrace my skepticism. The idea that we will be wearing Hololens headsets all day so we can augment our environment is poppycock.
Just like Google Glass before it, Hololens is an interesting concept but totally impractical except for specialized circumstances. Designing a cool new motorcycle? Sure, augment all you want. But walking around your home with your daily calendar floating in front of your face all the time — that is not something people are going to do.
That’s not to say there is no market for the Hololens. I can see a very-bright and very near-term future for augmented reality when it comes to entertainment and games. Along with virtual reality products like Oculus Rift, there’s going to be a large demand for better and more-interesting ways to interact and play games. But that is a very particular and specific use.
I don’t mean to come down too hard on ideas like Hololens. The technology is fantastic and well worth pursuing. In the distant future, long after old guys like me have left this mortal coil, augmented reality may be the way everyone interacts with the world. But that day is not coming anytime soon, so I find it very difficult to get too excited about ideas like Microsoft Hololens. I’ll hold out for a Holodeck.
Am I being too skeptical? Please, take a minute to tell me how I am wrong in the comments below. What am I missing?
All screenshots: Mark Kaelin courtesy of Windows