The long-awaited Microsoft Hololens is available for pre-orders, and can be yours for a mere $3,000! But unfortunately, the pre-order offer is only for developers. Still, Microsoft’s announcement Monday reveals some specifications and possibilities for what the future holds once the Hololens is available to consumers.
As Gizmodo reports, Microsoft has been teasing the Hololens for over a year — since January, 2015, to be exact. The Hololens is described as a “mixed reality” device. Unlike “virtual reality” devices, like the Oculus Rift, which project an image onto screens in front of your eyes, the Hololens will allow you to look at your actual world, and then project augmented information about it onto the screen in front of your eyes.
Confused? Have a look at the video below.
If you think that looks indescribably cool, you’re not alone: in 2015, Gizmodo blogger Eric Limer wrote that the Hololens looks simultaneously amazing and pointless.
“Man, this sure looks awesome and cool and probably also janky and questionably useful!”
— The Next Web (@TheNextWeb) February 29, 2016
Tech writers at Wired were given the chance to try out a prototype Hololens back in 2015, and blogger Jessi Hempel gave it a glowing review. Using the Hololens for a simulated trip to Mars, Hempel described the experience as almost magical.
“The ground is a parched, dusty sandstone, and so realistic that as I take a step, my legs begin to quiver… After exploring Mars, I don’t want to remove the headset, which has provided a glimpse of a combination of computing tools that make the unimaginable feel real.”
Still, virtual reality and augmented reality, while looking amazing, haven’t exactly been a hit with consumers. Google Glass, if you’ll remember — with its wonky controls, limited usefulness, and stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb appearance — was a bust, according to the New York Times. Similar Next Big Things in the augmented reality/virtual reality industry — namely, Oculus Rift and Magic Leap — have consisted mostly of promises, constantly-moving release dates, and little else (except talk of insanely high price tags).
— Forbes (@Forbes) February 25, 2016
There’s also the matter that Microsoft doesn’t exactly have the Midas Touch, and the tech world is littered with failures from the Seattle giant. Microsoft’s entry into the mp3 player market — the Zune — is a case study for how not to make or market an mp3 player. And Microsoft’s latest OS, Windows 10, has gotten decidedly mixed reviews.
Still, if Microsoft Hololens developers — and, eventually, consumers — are able to look past the $3,000 price tag, Microsoft’s hit-and-miss record, and the device’s questionable usefulness, the gadget may finally bring techies into the virtual reality world.
The developer-only Hololens comes with seven specific apps that are available in the Windows Store. However, those apps are demonstration-only, so what you see now versus what you’ll get when the device is available to consumers is going to differ substantially.
First is an as-yet-unnamed Hololens version of Skype, which will turn the person you’re speaking to into a hologram. Then there’s the HoloTour, an app that virtually inserts you into another location for a 360 degree view.
As far as games, right now Hololens buyers will be able to download RoboRaid, a first-person shooter; Young Conker, a traditional platformer; and Fragments, a “crime drama that plays out in mixed reality in the space in front of you, allowing you to search for clues and follow storylines in your house.”
Developers who order the Microsoft Hololens can expect it to ship by March 30.
[Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images]