Just moments ago Microsoft unveiled a project they have been working on in secret for several years called Microsoft HoloLens. A headset that adds virtual content to the physical world. Watch the video below to get an idea of what this means.
Although the elements of what we see in this technology aren’t completely new and ground-breaking, put together and in the applications that Microsoft shows in their demo video, it suddenly seems so obvious what our future will look like. Holograms not just as a tool to watch princess Leia, a dead rap star or an Indian politician, but as a reality that fills our entire world.
The traditional thought of virtual reality is one of complete virtual reality or physical reality — you put a VR helmet on to be virtual and take it off to get back into physical reality. But the concept of blending the two, knowing how our digital content is already such an embedded part of our everyday world, makes so much sense. The idea of augmented reality is already used by some mobile apps, but the way that the concept is applied and the limitations of having to use a small window in your hands to see the virtual parts, has kept this from gaining any real impact. Let’s consider that today’s Microsoft HoloLens headset is version 1 and that the now clunky gear will eventually be replaced by something much more wearable and always-on. The impact could be phenomenal.
It’s not difficult to fantasize about what this could mean to our future world. The demo shows how a user of the HoloLens creates a 3D model of a toy to later have that model 3D printed as an object in the physical world. But why even bother with transferring the virtual object into the physical world if you can already see it, just as it is, in a hologram? What could this mean to the production of physical objects in the future? Why still produce TV sets when everyone has their own TV hologram projected. The whole family can be sitting on the sofa staring at the same wall but each watching their own TV projected on it. And this could apply to so many physical objects: framed art or photos, computer screens, decoration around the house, etc. Only objects that require physical interaction would have to be present, like chairs, faucets and lights. Will our homes, streets and offices of the future simply be semi-empty canvasses on which everyone projects their own content?
The biggest applications will likely not be in transferring physical objects to holograms but more so the applications of holograms that do things that are not even possible in the physical world.
In 50 years time we will probably look back at this video, giggling of how you had to put this whole device on your head and how boxy Minecraft looked. But we might also look back at it as the first big introduction of what would become a huge part of our future.