Microsoft HoloLens pretty much stole the show at the Windows 10 press conference. Gone were the questions about when Windows 10 is out, or how much will it cost, instead all people wanted to know about was HoloLens.
The excitement is justifiable. HoloLens is a holographic projection headset that beams photons of light straight into the back of your eye, the resulting experience is that a virtual world is now layered on top of real life.
It sounds awesome - but what's it like in person?
"Kipman’s prototype is amazing. It amplifies the special powers that Kinect introduced, using a small fraction of the energy...A scenario lands me on a virtual Mars-scape. The ground is a parched, dusty sandstone, and so realistic that as I take a step, my legs begin to quiver. They don’t trust what my eyes are showing them. Behind me, the rover towers seven feet tall, its metal arm reaching out from its body like a tentacle. The sun shines brightly over the rover, creating short black shadows on the ground beneath its legs."
"Imagine if your walls and surfaces were made of Minecraft bricks. What would happen if you punched through? I knocked a hole in a table that let me see THROUGH the table, down into a cavernous underground with a giant lava pit at the bottom. I shot through a real-life wall and found a cave on the other side. Because Microsoft's glasses made that section of the wall invisible, duping my vision to let me see the cavern instead, it felt surprisingly real."
"For more collaboration, look no further than Skype. I've used Skype many, many times, but never like this. Microsoft tasked me with installing a light switch with help from a "friend" calling me remotely. His video feed followed my gaze, but I could also pin him to a spot in the air in front of me and keep him in place while I looked around the room. All the while he could see everything I could, and proceeded to draw instructions in the air in front of me. I'm pretty handy around the house, but this sort of virtual hands-on instruction was phenomenal."
"HoloLens is clearly very early, and kinda sucks right now. It's uncomfortable. It's cumbersome. It looks and feels like a piece of hardware that's far from final.
Is it bad? No. Lord no. Stop it. It's very impressive, but it's a brand-new entry in a market that basically doesn't exist yet. Good on Microsoft for that! At the same time, man, Microsoft has a long way to go before this is something we want to use at home. When it's got Windows 10? And can be used untethered?"
"On the computer screen, I saw black and white Mars landscape imagery. It was poorly stitched together and offered no context. When I used the mouse to select a rock on screen, its counterpart in the 3D-rendered landscape was also selected and a little flag appeared above it. The tech instructed me to use the mouse to drag my cursor off the physical screen and select something directly in the 3D environment. It sounded like a silly idea: how could the mouse go off screen? Augmented reality makes it possible. I did as I was told and moved the mouse from one digital environment to another somewhat more unchartered territory and then I selected a rock. It was amazing."