Microsoft is known to be a visionary company, often times we see the future as the company envision, but today at the Windows 10 briefing event, the company unveiled something unbelievably awesome and unexpected, a virtual reality headset that brings holograms to the real world. (And it will be available this year.)
The new device is called Microsoft HoloLens, a device much like the Oculus Rift, but with see-through viewing like normal glasses. The virtual reality headset uses Windows Holographic, a set of APIs built into Windows 10 that allows to overlay holograms into the real physical world, offering users a new augmented reality like it was never possible before.
Although, we don’t yet have specifics on what is powering HoloLens, we know that inside you’ll find a: camera, powerful computer, lenses, and vent.
- Camera: HoloLens features a depth camera that has a field of vision that stretches left-and-right 120 degrees, which is a lot more than the viewing from the original Kinect and it also draws just a fraction of the power.
- Computer: The VR headset features a computer with 18 sensors that is able to process terabytes of data per second. The motherboard holds a central processing unit, a graphical processor, and a third HPU holographic processing unit invented by Microsoft.
- Lenses: To trick your brain into perceiving holographic images appear at a distance, light particles bounce around millions of times in the “light engine”. Then the photons enter the two lenses, where they ricochet between layers of blue, green, and red glass before hitting the back of your eyes.
- Vent: The VR headset is a very powerful computer, in fact, it’s more powerful than a typical laptop, but it will not overheat, thanks to a ventilation system that makes air flow cool down the device.
Microsoft HoloLens doesn’t feature a keyboard and mouse, so it relies exclusively on gestures, voice commands, and sensors that track precisely where your eyes are at all times. The headset has no wires and it’s an standalone device, meaning you do not need to connect it to a phone or PC.
The Holographic set of APIs are universal, just like the new app model in Windows 10, meaning that you can create an holographic app once and run it everywhere. Microsoft also mentioned that is working to support all kinds of similar hardware, including Oculus Rift and Magic Leap.
As part of the this big project the company is also building the Microsoft HoloStudio, a 3D modeling tool that let users create holograms in minutes, which then they can print using a 3D printer.
The software maker did not talk about pricing, but the company is planning to release the device to developers this spring and it will be available in the “Windows 10 timeframe”. For more information, you can also visit the Microsoft HoloLens official site.