Microsoft dives into the future, unveils new augmented reality rig

Since the announcement of the Oculus Rift back in 2012, many companies began to implement and develop their own virtual-reality headsets to compete in the newly formed market.

On Jan. 21, 2015 Microsoft announced its own take on these products, the Microsoft HoloLens.

The HoloLens itself is built in the form of a large pair of sunglasses with an additional headband for putting it on properly. Like other products, its purpose is to indulge the user in a virtual surrounding, giving the impression of being in the game.

However, Microsoft made the headband to not actually use virtual-reality, instead the product uses augmented reality by projecting the “holograms” onto the HoloLens’ visor. This makes the viewer experience the holograms as if they were in the same room as them.

Microsoft stated the product as “bringing holograms to life in your environment where you can interact with digital content in relation to your real world, just as you do with physical objects.”

Powered by Windows 10, the HoloLens works by using two cameras for video recording and depth sensing, four microphones, and a variety of environment understanding components such as an accelerometer capable of measuring the speed of the user. Images are projected onto the translucent, tinted visor for the user to see.

The company described this headset as “the most advanced holographic computer the world has ever seen.” Although the controller is designed to be the user’s hands, the product allows for a Bluetooth connection to pair it with a “clicker” which is a thumb sized device made for scrolling and selecting. The lens will also support a Wi-Fi connection, as well as an app that allows others to see what the user is currently seeing in the headset.

Microsoft has announced that it will be putting a developer version of the product for sale on March 30 starting at $3,000.

The battery life on the HoloLens is set to be five and a half hours for light use and two and a half under heavy use. It will also be compatible with Xbox controllers.

Another feature that is currently being researched and possibly implemented is what the company is calling “Holoportation”. This feature allows the user to see another HoloLens user in a skype like manner but with the added bonus that the other person is projected as a full “­Star Wars like” hologram.

Microsoft has yet to reveal information on the general availability of the product to the public, but it is expected that it will be a while until the company finishes tweaking the headset and pricing for the HoloLens drops.