Today, I tuned in to listen to the Windows 10 event that was to promote more about the upcoming new OS that many are anticipating will be a big improvement over Windows 8 and 8.1. While I’m a huge fan of iOS products like iPad and iPhone, when it comes to my laptop, I’m a devoted PC gal who would much rather use the Microsoft operating system and tools. I suppose it’s because this is what I’ve been used to for 20-plus years, and it’s easier for me to adapt those changes, and more of the tools I like to use are available for PC use. Yet, while I’m usually a relatively early adopter with many things, I’ve been very hesitant to adopt Windows 8 or 8.1. There are some improvements with Win 8.1, but when I first encountered Win 8, I balked. So, time will tell what happens once we all get our free upgrades to Win 10 (which is great–it’s going to be free for the first year of availability to Win 7 users like me, and to Win 8/8.1 users). There was a set of business apps called Surface Hub that looked good that combined OneNote with a digital whiteboard and provided new sharing capabilities for workgroups and meetings. I could see the practical uses for that in my own work right now. The new browser called “Project Spartan” looks incredibly promising as well, based on some of the new functionality that will be forthcoming.
But what REALLY caught my attention in this event was the introduction of a new device that Microsoft introduced. I think it was a bit of a surprise to see this, but it is a sign that Microsoft means business, and to me, it’s a positive sign. Microsoft has created a new device called the HoloLens. And from what I could tell, HoloLens is everything that Google Glass wishes it could be. While the viewing apparatus used is certainly more…clunky looking…than Google Glass, everything else about it (and why it’s probably still clunky looking) is what it has going for it. There are no wires, no synching it with your phone–it is an autonomous device unto itself. The connection with today’s Win 10 event is that it will run Win 10, but it showed how people can interact with the world around them, and still use the holographic tools around them to merge reality and virtuality. It’s difficult for me to describe, but the 3D imagery used was fantastic, and they showed several applications of how it could be used more practically with other people–including those who don’t have a HoloLens.
I think the biggest difference of all–other than the fact that this is a device that acts on its own, with its own processors among other things, is that unlike Google Glass that was being promoted as a device that could be used as a tool and for everyday use, HoloLens seems to be promoted solely as a tool. Now, it can be used for gaming and such, but the tool applications were what really made it stand out more than anything. My husband and I were using Skype and exchanging comments while watching the live streaming video, and when we were commenting about the differences between HoloLens and Glass, his comment was, “…but this is built as a tool.. you can see the size. It’s not meant as an accessory.. it’s actually a tool.” He’s exactly right. This isn’t a novelty item with potential for greater capability. It has the greater capability, but it’s not an accessory.
I recommend reading this article by The Verge that includes great video and further description of the product.
I don’t think this is the type of thing that I need right now, even when it comes out. I don’t have any practical application. But I could see how this could be used in several years once the components do become smaller and I can use it as an accessory. (Give it time!)
What do you think? Do you think this is the next step of merging the virtual world with reality? Sure looks like it to me. Post your comments below.
Update: When I mentioned the new HoloLens to my son, he asked me, “Are you sure they aren’t just ripping off Oculus Rift?” Good question. I don’t think so, because HoloLens lets you see through to what’s actually around you, whereas Oculus Rift is contained in its view. Tell me what you think.
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