Microsoft HoloLens is the world’s most advanced holographic computing device, enabled by Windows 10. For the first time ever, Microsoft HoloLens brings high-definition holograms to life in your world, where they integrate with your physical places, spaces, and things. HoloLens intelligently maps the room you’re in, blending holograms with the environment around you and you can interact with holograms and everyday objects together. HoloLens is neither a pure virtual reality device or a pure augmented reality device. It offers an mixed reality experience to the users. It competes with companies such as Google backed Magic Leap.
What about games in HoloLens? When Microsoft demoed it to the press earlier this year, they showed a Minecraft like game. There are multiple job listings which confirms that Microsoft Studios is working on games for HoloLens. Microsoft has also confirmed that Microsoft Studios team is already working on games for Windows Holographic platform which will run on HoloLens. In an interview to Engadget, Phil Spencer said that streaming Xbox games to HoloLens is clearly on the roadmap.
While HoloLens will have games during the launch, I doubt whether these games will offer the same experience as Sony’s virtual reality device Project Morpheus or Facebook’s Oculus, or HTC/Valve’s Vive. Since the virtual reality platform is different from holographic platform, the difference in experiences is expected. But I think core gamers will prefer virtual reality platform as it offers more immersive gaming. I think Microsoft should also release a VR device focused on core gaming market.
In the recent patent filed from Microsoft, Microsoft is describing a head-mounted display device includes a modular frame assembly including one or more different components.
A head-mounted display device includes a modular frame assembly including one or more different components. Each of the different components may be selected from a component set including at least two or more differently-sized versions of each different component. The head-mounted display device also includes a modular see-through display sub-assembly including one or more mountings for selectably coupling the modular see-through display sub-assembly to the modular frame assembly. The modular see-through display sub-assembly may be configured to couple to any combination of differently-sized versions of different components of the modular frame assembly.
Just imagine, allowing consumers to switch the see-through display assembly with a regular one to make it a VR device. In addition to the motion sensor data, Microsoft’s HoloLens also includes eye-tracking which will help in accurate controls during gaming sessions. In the recent patent filing, Microsoft detailed the eye-tracking in HoloLens as follows,
Technology is provided for an integrated eye tracking and display system for a see-through, near-eye, mixed reality display device. Image data and IR illumination for eye tracking are optically coupled into a respective see-through, planar waveguide positioned to be seen through by each eye in a respective display optical system of the display device. The respective planar waveguide comprises one or more wavelength selective filters positioned to be co-axial with an optical axis of the respective display optical system. The wavelength selective filters direct IR and visible illumination out of the planar waveguide in the direction of the respective eye and direct IR reflections, including reflections from the eye, into the planar waveguide. The reflections are optically coupled out of the waveguide to an IR sensor which generates eye tracking data based on the reflections.
In an interview to Eurogamer Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said that HoloLens doesn’t necessarily mean that Mirosoft won’t go on to develop a pure VR device.
“I don’t think we’ve locked ourselves out,” he said. “We’ve looked at a mixed reality space that we could do with Hololens and think about it as a unique set of features and technologies to enable, that doesn’t preclude us from doing anything in the VR space either from a first-party or partnership perspective.
What do you think? Should Microsoft release a dedicated VR headset focused on Xbox One games or focus just on HoloLens?