Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality device seems too futuristic to exist, but everything we’ve seen makes it look like it works as advertised.
A new video meant for developers (via WinBeta) is giving us our first decent look at the HoloLens user interface in action. The tutorial shows the modified Windows 10 operating system floating in the air thanks to the “hologram” technology that mixes digital images with the physical world. This illustrates how the AR head-mounted display uses pinching, swiping, and “air tapping” gestures for navigation.
Figuring out how to make these kinds of human-computer interactions natural for people is essential to turning the HoloLens (and other AR headsets) into a viable consumer electronics product. Microsoft plans to make a play for the augmented and virtual reality market, and getting developers working on problems like the HoloLens interface could help this device dominate in a sector that tech advisor Digi-Capital is predicting will reach $120 billion by 2020.
Check out the clip for yourself:
While we’ve seen some amazing demos for HoloLens before this, it’s nice to get an idea of what a mundane scenario looks like. For example, we can see how the HoloLens wearer in the video flings their fingers forward in a “blooming” motion to bring up the shell that acts like the OS’s main menu. From here, you can pilot your cursor by moving your head around and then doing one of those air taps that definitely do not look like they are going to register with the sensors 100 percent of the time.
In general, this all seems to make sense, but it’s difficult to tell if these actions will feel intuitive or comfortable until we get a lot of time with HoloLens. And, by that point, these interactions may change.
The above video is part of Microsoft’s Actiongram software, which is an app that helps people set up and configure their HoloLens, according to a trademark filing. But it looks like the app also includes video-recording features as well, so Microsoft may have bigger plans for that brand. Community manager Kristina Horner also alludes to other videos that explain how to comfortably wear the headset and how to connect it to wireless Internet.
So this is also an early look at how Microsoft is introducing people (well, developers) to the basic concepts of augmented reality. Videos are a decent solution for education at this point, but I’m hoping we get some interactive AR tutorials starring Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston when this thing is ready to go to market.