What is Microsoft HoloLens?
First of all, what is it? In the words of its creators: “Microsoft HoloLens is the first fully untethered, see-through holographic computer. It enables high-definition holograms to come to life in your world, seamlessly integrating with your physical places, spaces, and things.”
According to Microsoft, holograms are made of light and can be viewed from different angles and distances. Augmented reality differs in that users see a layer of data over the real world. Virtual reality differs in that users completely enter a computer-generated world. Instead, the HoloLens “mixed reality” allows users to experience the digital objects around you while staying connected to the real world.
TThink of the animated Disney classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and its mix of animation and reality. Now mix that with the hologram technology Tony Stark uses in The Avengers and Iron Man movies. HoloLens isn’t quite that advanced, but that will give you an idea of how Microsoft wants the technology to be implemented and used in the long run.
What’s Holding It Back?
Understandably, there’s a lot of excitement around this technology and the possibilities it offers. However, there are still some obstacles that will keep it from landing on every CAD designer’s desk, let alone in every consumer’s home, in the near future:
- The need for a headset: HoloLens requires a headset. Granted, the headset is wireless and the only piece of hardware, but it’s also bulky and cumbersome. Consumers especially haven’t appeared to be too keen on having to wear any kind of headsets. 3D TVs have had a hard time gaining traction and the glasses are a big reason. Google Glass may have come the farthest in consumer interest and excitement, yet that has been discontinued (or has it…)
- Existing programs and apps: Even though it’s on Windows 10, programs and apps will need to be updated and modified to realize the full potential of HoloLens.
- Enterprise customers: Enterprise customers are historically slow to adopt new technologies.
Where the HoloLens Shines
Having said that, there are some excellent uses for HoloLens that should make it a strong tool for designers to add to their current set of tools. The holographic objects offers vantage points that might not be available on a computer screen. Being able to place a hologram of a specific part on a complete model may give insight to needed size adjustments or other modifications.
Collaboration and Prototyping
Collaboration from anywhere in the world takes on a whole new level of sophistication. Presenting and reviewing designs becomes a lot easier when all are looking at a holographic image and are able to tweak and adjust in real time.
Or, brainstorm ideas on multiple whiteboards that you can “hang” up for everyone to see. Prototyping becomes faster and easier as teams can create a hologram image of their design, offer feedback and send to a 3D printer right from the HoloLens.
Step into the gaming world by creating a full game board or environment in your home. HoloLens will give you ability to do just that and they gave a basic demonstration at their launch event.
When can we get our hands on the Microsoft HoloLens? There hasn’t been any definite word on when it will be available and for what price. Based on comments from CEO Satya Nadella with BBC Click, Microsoft sees the HoloLens as a five-year journey with developer and enterprise access before it becomes available to the public. There is speculation that the first version may be available around July 2016. Comments on Quora predict the pricing to be anywhere from $500 to $1,500 USD.
Overall, Microsoft HoloLens definitely is moving forward with holographic technology and “mixed reality.” It looks to have real forward-thinking advances for reviewing designs, upgrading levels of collaboration and presenting in new ways. However, when it comes to CAD design itself, your best and most accessible tools are the 3D mouse and CadMouse.
Discover the Comfort of the Two-Handed Workflow
Adding a 3D mouse and CadMouse to your desktop setup introduces a balanced and co-operative two-handed workflow that results in significantly less movement and clicking of the “regular” mouse. The outcome? Reduced pain, improved comfort and increased productivity.
Learn more about these tools and the benefits of the two-handed workflow by downloading The CAD Comfort Manual.
Image Source: Microsoft HoloLens via Microsoft