Starting today, Microsoft will be taking applications for its new development kits of the HoloLens augmented reality system. These units are expected to start shipping in the first quarter of next year, with a rather hefty price tag of $3000.
HoloLens is a rather different product from many of the other AR and VR systems currently in development, in that it’s a self contained unit, requiring no external PC or trailing cables in order to work.
Forgoing total immersion with traditional VR technologies, AR is as the name suggests, augmenting and enhancing what you see around you. Microsoft has demoed a number of applications, such as Skype, as well as games, including a holographic Minecraft. A new demo called ‘Project X-Ray‘ was shown, which is effectively a first person shooter that literally uses your living room as the level.
In the latest demo, robots are seen bursting through the walls of the studio. New interaction techniques also allowed the presenter to use his arm as a weapon. What made things more interesting was the context awareness of the assailants as they not only interacted with each other, but also the scenery. You can get a feel for the demo in the video below.
The HoloLens is outfitted with 3D optical tracking, surround sound, and an advanced display (of which there aren’t too many details about as it’s still in development). Most of the test units have been x86 based with 2GB RAM and use 802.11ac for wireless communication. The dev units coming in Q1 2016 may be similar.
Final product details are subject to change of course, and there is currently no date for the final product, so there is a good chance the consumer version won’t be out until another year later. At least this should provide plenty of time for developers to start working on cool new projects that go beyond simple VR.
Jamie has been abusing computers since he was a little lad. What began as a curiosity quickly turned into an obsession. As senior editor for Techgage, Jamie handles content publishing, web development, news and product reviews, with a focus on peripherals, audio, networking, and full systems.