Hololens is a wireless helmet that creates holographic illusions in the wearer’s field of view. Microsoft is branding the innovation as enhanced, or augmented reality, rather than a complete virtual reality such as Oculus Rift.
The news comes just one week after Google announced it would be discontinuing production of its Google Glass hardware, which industry experts told Event would not affect the landscape of the event tech landscape significantly.
Complete details as to what the consumer product offering will consist of have yet to be released, however the industry is certainly showing interest in its potential for brand experiences. Nick Thompson, founding partner of creative technology agency Knit, said: "The Project Hololens launch teaser video looks very impressive and you can instantly see how this type of technology could be used at events such as auto shows where there is need to display new products and features in ways that align the brands with innovation."
Ben Trewhella, managing director of developer Opposable Games, explained: "Holograms have been part of every school child's imagination since Star Wars, and now we might finally be seeing it happen. Microsoft are betting heavily on a future where the real and digital worlds interact, where users can switch in and out of games and applications quickly, an enticing prospect."
He added: "The prototype looks like something you might actually wear in public - it's perhaps a bit chunky, but that will improve over time, and it feels less like a poorly disguised hidden camera than Glass."
The reality of augmented reality
Despite being optimistic, experts remain cautious of over-hyping the new futuristic product. Oliver Richardson, group sales and marketing director at DB Systems, said: "It’s likely be a couple of months until we know some hard facts but we love it. It looks to be very good if what they in the videos is what can actually be achieved."
Solomon Rogers, managing director of Rewind FX, added the product’s newness means it is unlikely to be consumer-facing for a good number of years. "Even then, it’s going to be expensive - I could see it retailing at around £600 to £700, so it won’t be equipment we’ll be seeing in people’s homes," he explained.
But Rogers thinks this exclusivity will mean Hololens will be great for activations. He said: "Automotive brands will be able to overlay their cars in showrooms with specifications and extra detail, or even create a hologram of the car itself. And architectural and real estate companies will be able dress and redress a property.
"It’s a new stage for technology - its depth perception and holograms mean the graphics will be truly integrated into our universe. It adds to our lives, unlike virtual reality which takes us away to a different place, which is a much more natural experience for the user."
Comment below to let us know what you think.
For more in-depth and print-only features, showcases and interviews with world-leading brands, don't miss the next issue of Event magazine by subscribing here.