Farewell, holograms! Looking through the window…

The force is strong with this one!

… we thought. Well, Jedis wouldn`t need holograms or AR… they just see through the force. But puny little humans on Earth like us need devices for holograms. R2D2 had some real cool holographic technology included using the air particles as the canvas. Well, while there are some smoke or vaporized water screens out there, that´s not the real deal. As of today we cannot project holograms in a useful consumer way without some kind of medium. Holograms are a photographic recording of a light field that works in 3D without the need of glasses.

Damn, now and here, reality (real reality) hits us: currently all mixed reality tech is viewed through some piece of gadget (DLP, pocket device, glasses…) and we were all crestfallen when we first saw the “holographic lens” by Microsoft. It would have been just too good to be true… but we cannot avoid the detour through glasses we all figured. Time to get down to earth and live with it – and make the best out of it (… and to be happy with it! I`m certainly still am).

Microsoft going for a Windows view

So, Microsoft seems to have realized this as well – maybe their marketing and PR team took the time to look into wikipedia. Just now an unnamed spokesperson of Microsoft gave Tom`s hardware a quote:

“Microsoft renamed “Windows Holographic” to “Windows Mixed Reality” to be more encompassing of the company’s broader vision for the platform. We’re unifying the mixed reality ecosystem around a platform that enables shared experiences and interoperability between headsets. By opening up the Windows Mixed Reality platform to the industry at large, we anticipate the growth of holographic apps will make for stronger experiences and better devices for everyone.”

Time to find-and-replace all holographic´s in their websites and Hololens descriptions! At least they picked the suitable term of Mixed Reality instead (as discussed multiple times before here). Their range clearly aims wider now – reaching from AR to VR and anything that might fit into Milgarm`s mixed reality continuum this way.

Just In Time Compiled

So, just in time before the release of the Creator`s update of Windows 10, Microsoft bothered to rebrand. Since there is more news on Windows Holographic Mixed Reality, I thought it`s worth a shout out here to sum it up what`s going on with the big player.

Recently, Microsoft decided to skip the Dev Kit #2 for the Hololens. Mark 3 to be expected not before 2019. Why did they opt for that? Honestly, I can totaly live with it and am happy – as long as they put all resources into the next release and spare us another interim solution with slightly better headstrap or 10% better battery. Let´s go all in on a bigger update in 2019! Until then it´s enough time to establish a MR operating system and multi-device pipeline for development.

But you get the impression that it was all a bit overhyped and roll-out was just not realistically anticipated by most roadmap creators or marketeers. Now we get the Acer MR glasses (VR glasses) that support holographic Mixed Reality by Microsoft… but then again only for developers with very limited access at the start. They even dared to tease us with an empty plastic set of glasses last year… Is it really necessary to show things so early? Or maybe only the AR bubble pro`s saw this anyway and consumer landscape did not take a note. The Rift DK1, Crystal Cove, etc… also took a while to get out there.

Anyway, getting the operating system up and running for it now, seems a valid and smart move still. Since a week the new insider build of Windows 10 including Mixed Reality features for development is out in the wild and worth a look. Sean Ong was quicker than me and recorded a hands-on quick review of what you can expect of it. In the end it´s a virtual real, eh, world you can have as an emulator for now. But hey, worth a visit if you want to get the lead in MR SW development for MS!

Your real home is (obviously) represented virtually as a 3D environment you can move and teleport within. Then you can add virtual virtual objects (I must not call them holographic images anymore!) to see how the augmented objects would look like. You can see your Hololens menu, use Cortana and interact “naturally” with this playground sandbox for development.

It´s worth a trial and worth going this direction. But some questions need to be answered. How well can we actually use this for development? What if I need to use my hand to interact (like I do today with the Hololens)? How do I simulate that? Do I strap a Leap Motion to my Vive to simulate the Hololens air gestures to move teleporting through a virtual representation of my real home? Good fun, it`s getting ridiculous! Hopefully not recursive! ;-)

How accurate will the tracking work in the virtual representation of my real world in there? I assume it will work perfectly and the scanned virtual mesh of the real world virtual representation will be accurate by the millimeter (still with me?)! But hey, this could lead the way within the emulator to see how things could be with DK2 in 2019, right Microsoft?

Yeah, and how does Candy Crush look like on the Hololens? I need to try that! :-)

In any case, I do still agree with Alex Kipman (who recently gave an interview to Business Insider Australia adressing this issue) that we will throw away all our screens and smartphones at one point in time and live without screens (well, we carry the screen around with us on our nose). The potential is just so huge, but still so many things need to be answered. Not only battery life and how to shrink all tech, but also full indoor scaled tracking working seamlessly with full city-scale outdoor tracking. Data transmission via 5G or 6G needs to work and don´t get me started about regulations on safety… how long will it take to get approval by the law to wear “secure” MR smartglases while driving? Well, I`m getting carried away. Still enough research to blog about for the next years, still enough SDKs and DKs to try from all different companies and visionaries in the near and far future! Quite awesome!

… unless the computers go wild on their own before and all artificial intelligence destroys all puny humans before. Speaking of it, you can now also download a Hololens terminator T-800 view including some nice object recognition!

Hasta la vista, chach@s!