At first glance, the Microsoft HoloLens looks like many of the virtual reality headsets we've seen being released over the last several years. With popularity for virtual reality entertainment skyrocketing over the last 2 or 3 years, more people are becoming interested in using a device that provides a virtual experience for many diverse purposes. Of course, with models like the Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard bringing gamers and grandmas some of the most life-like entertainment possible, looking to Microsoft to see what they bring to the table is only natural.
The HoloLens is a little less like its virtual reality companions and more geared toward the augmented reality crowd. Microsoft has created the first holographic computer that operates completely untethered and could bring a whole new universe of possibilities to the work world and entertainment. Unlike Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, the HoloLens allows the holograms to be put into the user's current environment. For example, you can see an extension of your design projected onto the current model in real time. Microsoft also boasts integration with 3D design and printing capabilities and taking previous experiences to the next level, like actually being able to play Minecraft on a surface in front of you.
So far, the HoloLens is scheduled to ship to lucky users who have sent in an application and been accepted during the first quarter of 2016. But what's the price on to get your hands on this device? Creative developers with cool $3,000 will be the ones who can afford this device. Microsoft is only allowing two units to be ordered per application. Developers should be aware that at present moment, the headset is only available in English. A definitive release date or pricing structure has not been scheduled for future users. Little by little though, more information is being leaked about the capabilities of the HoloLens.
Previously, the battery life of the headset was also not known, making many developers and commercial consumers question how much work the computer was actually capable of handling before it needed to be recharged. Finally, the makers just recently revealed at an event in Tel Aviv, that the HoloLens will support 5.5 hours of battery life with basic usage and 2.5 hours of high-intensity use. It seems a little laptop-esque and most users will probably be satisfied with this ability to hold a charge. However, many of the impressive videos on Microsoft's site feature the usage of the device to help communicate with team members while they are out in the field. The battery life might come up short here if it only functions for a few hours.
In December, Microsoft opened an experience showcase at their flagship store in New York specifically designed for developers. The idea is clear, Microsoft knows this product can take off in numerous directions and they want input as they continue to develop software. The HoloLens will run on Windows 10 and is said to be able to connect with other devices wirelessly, allowing users to share the same experience on difference headsets. Depending on bandwidth of course, this type of team input could create a more universal communication environment for designers, engineers and creatives. We're not sure when everyone else will be able to get their hands on a HoloLens, but developers should be able to start giving reviews and posting innovations from their involvement with the process very soon.