Microsoft wants to put a computer on your face.
During its Windows 10 event today in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft revealed the HoloLens augmented-reality headset and the Windows Holographic platform. The face-mounted computer is a wireless Windows 10 device that enables people to see virtual “holograms” in a 3D space, and Microsoft announced that games will benefit from the new device’s capabilities. The company went on to say that this is “the next PC,” which is something that Facebook is claiming about the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset that its subsidiary Oculus VR is developing.
The HoloLens device creates an augmented-reality overlay that goes over your vision and can interact with objects around you. When it comes to gaming, Microsoft talked about dropping 3D models into your living room and turning that into a platforming game.
In a sizzle-reel video, Microsoft showed an example of this where a purple alien jumped from a couch to the floor and then from a coffee table onto a fan. While this was just a demonstration, the suggestion was that players could control this character like a 3D platforming game (think Super Mario 64), but your world is now the environment your character must overcome.
Microsoft hasn’t announced a price or release date for HoloLens. But the company is tying the product to Windows 10, which is due out later this year.
HoloLens and Oculus Rift are both similar devices. You wear each over your eyes, but they have a few major differences. The Rift is focused on completely replacing your vision with a simulation. It is a sit-down experience that you have with the device connected to your PC. HoloLens instead is a self-contained computer that you can see the real world through. This means you can get up, walk around, and still get digital images and information at the same time.
These are two different philosophies about the next stage of computing, but both obviously believe that we wearables is the future.