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The Microsoft HoloLens

The Microsoft HoloLens

The Microsoft HoloLens has lead to a transformation in computing, space exploration and video calling. The headset is not a tethered computer. It is defined as a holographic computer built into a headset that allows users to see, hear, and interact with holograms within an environment – such as a living room or an office space. According to Microsoft, the device mixes reality: a reality in which the world is a canvas. As the first of its kind, it also allows users to engage with digital content and interact with the world. In terms of innovation, the HoloLens resulted from a combination of hologram technology; a computer and a headset. It uses no wires and does not need to be hooked up to another computer. With the use of High Definition Lens technology the user has the ability to view augmented reality with greater image quality than competitors. Unlike the virtual reality headsets, the device allows the user to view the surroundings as well as the holograms created by the HoloLens. The built-in sensors are able to detect the eye movements of the user to determine where the user is looking. A process vital for stability, which is the result of  terabytes of information simultaneously being processed without any lagging or slowness of other running processes the headset has running at any given time.

Not only does it change how we compute but the very definitions of a computer. In that computers now have a brand new category as of 2015. Before the launch of the prototype HoloLens in 2015 there was a working version sent into space in collaboration with NASA. This experiment allowed the creators to explore not only another aspect of the device’s potential, but open up new possibilities relating to space exploration and discovery. But how does it do this?  The technology from the headset is able replicate the environment captured from the camera sent to space. Through the holograms created by the HoloLens, users are then able to interact with the holographic replica of outer space in the comfort of their living room. The team of researchers was able to calculate the size of craters on the moon without having to have taken a shuttle. And why stop there? I am of the opinion that this technology can be used in crime scene investigations, in that if for example the police had an exact holographic projection of a shootout in real time without being physically present could reduce casualties in the profession. But I digress.

Not only is the device capable of creating holographic replicas of environments, but it can also replicate humans. In doing so, the device is able to transform video calling. At a demonstration of the features of the HoloLens last year, the presenter made a Skype call. With the aid of a wide screen monitor, the audience was able to see what the user was seeing. The user was not only able to see the person on the other end of the call but the receiver’s immediate surroundings. Both parties involved in the “video” call were able to interact with each other as if they were in the same physical location. What the developers have done is to create a new way to experience, interact and enjoy video calling. For now it is limited to Skype, but who knows what the future holds?

With reference to the value of this innovation space explorers already have use for the device. It can be useful in crime fighting. It can reduce casualties for public defense personnel. And the potential is still being explored. The creation of the HoloLens is, in my opinion a good example of the Medici Effect because at least three disciplines have come together for it to have been realized. In addition to this, a number of barriers that existed between the three aforementioned disciplines have been removed. And finally, the processing ability of the HoloLens is a definite result of a leap in computation.

In conclusion, with the invention of the HoloLens, computation has transformed to allow Microsoft the ability to replicate, and interact with scale representations of the world. So much so that the technology allows scientists to virtually interact with the moon. And finally the evolution of video calling, which now involves a number of new features, like the person to person interactivity over long distances.

Tarik Bleary

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