Microsoft announced a new augmented reality device called HoloLens at its Windows 10 event on Wednesday. The potential gaming implications were immediate and illustrated by a slide prior to the announcement. However, does that mean we should expect to be playing Minecraft using the hologram generating accessory with the Xbox One or PC this year or next? Probably not, asserts one analyst, and it could even be longer than that.
The HoloLens device is powered by a GPU, CPU, and a third processor that Microsoft calls a Holographic Processing Unit (HPU). These three come together to allow users to see holographic images placed in the real world that can be interacted with through hand gestures and voice commands. There’s an array of sensors on the unit as well as speakers to provide spatial sound.
Why bring all this up? Because as impressive as the live demos may have been, that members of the press have been going through, it also sounds pretty expensive at this point. That translates to very limited consumer appeal for the foreseeable future.
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) January 21, 2015
Analyst Piers Harding-Rolls of IHS Technology said the following.
“HoloLens is most graphically rich and immersive augmented reality solution shown publicly by any major technology company.”
The Minecraft demos have been among the most impressive demonstration currently. Harding-Rolls said the “Minecraft-based builder demo shows gaming potential of new platform.” Meanwhile, Polygon‘s Dieter Bohn claimed the Minecraft demo was “by far, the impressive demo for my money.” Even current Minecraft lead developer Jens Bergensten is impressed with HoloLens, despite the very much work-in-progress state it is in.
However, it’s clear that HoloLens is still in its infancy. The demos have been carefully scripted and the hardware is not quite as sleek and simple as the pictures have led you to believe so far. “It’s a contraption, to be sure,” Bohn stated.
“There’s a small, heavy block you hang around your neck which contains all the computing power.”
There’s also the issue of cost, which is likely to keep it out of the hands of mainstream consumers in the near future.
“Having demoed the newly revealed HoloLens platform across a number of application scenarios, it is clear that this new immersive form of augmented reality could make a powerful and compelling gaming platform as well as an efficient collaborative tool for commercial deployments,” Harding-Rolls explains before getting to the kicker.
“However, we do not believe that a consumer offer for HoloLens is likely to be launched in the very near term and considering the proprietary technology involved, we believe the price point when released will make this a niche consumer proposition in the early cycle.”
Meanwhile, there are competing projects from Sony’s Project Morpheus and Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. Both of those appear to be on track to release sooner than HoloLens, but Microsoft’s device is perhaps offering something more unique.
There’s undoubtedly a gaming angle with HoloLens as Microsoft is already integrating Xbox and Windows 10. What do you think of the gaming possibilities of HoloLens? How much would you pay? Sound off in the comments below.
[Images via Microsoft]