The Microsoft HoloLens. Yes this was Microsoft’s surprise announcement that dripped icing all over a cake that already had onlookers salivating. What is the HoloLens? Well in general terms it is Microsoft’s harbinger and facilitator of what they have dubbed the “Era of Holographic Computing”. In technical terms it is a standalone, wearable computer outfitted with cameras, speakers, a microphone and a host of other sensors designed to, via a Heads Up Display (HUD), project an interactive holographic virtual world onto the physical world we exist in.
Having only seen it demoed and not witnessed it in all of its immersive glory my excitement about this device, being a die-hard tech and sci-fi fan, is already a 10 out of 10.
Here are some official descriptions about the device from Microsoft themselves:
“No cords, no phones, no wires, no tethers. Transparent lens and advanced sensors allow you to see your world and move confidently in it. Lightweight and adjustable to fit any adult head size. Work and play comfortably. Built-in spatial sound lets you hear holograms wherever they are in the room with pinpoint precision. Next-generation technology enabled by Windows 10.”
So the big question is this. Will a regular, working wage, family man Joe like myself be able to participate in the “era of holographic computing?” I don’t know. Microsoft conspiculously left that part out of the presentation. Or did they? Well, true they didn’t give an outright cost or say blatantly whether the Hololens was targeted at consumers or professionals. But they did say some things that lead me to believe that they want me and everyone like me to have one.
Based on a statement shared by Mary Jo Foley the HoloLens was initially planned as a gaming accessory until Satya got a look at it and expanded its vision. It is therefore conceivable that the price(if the tech currently in this expanded iteration of the device is not vastly beyond it’s original hardware) would be nearer the $299 everyone can have one, rather than the $1299 price point more suited for a target market of professionals, enterprise and private sector.
Additionally given the diverse use case scenarios presented to the audience via the demo, it seemed clear that Microsoft means for the Hololens to be used by the regular Joe/Jane as well as professionals. Further supported by the shere ubiquity Microsoft seems to be aiming for with Windows 10(the OS running this device and the targeted 1.5 billion PC install base), coupled again with the diverse use case scenarios in the demonstration, bolstered further by the presenters pressing home of the point that all Windows 10 PCs(he may have even said all Windows 10 devices) are ready for developers to create apps using the holographic APIs, seems to really build a case, and an infrastructure, that Microsoft wants to introduce Holographic Computing to the masses. An accessible price point would be the final key to this scenario.
This is my speculative, and admittedly hopeful, analysis based on the limited information Microsoft has provided. I believe with Windows 10 and the HoloLens Microsoft wishes to usher all of us into the “era of holographic computing“. They can do this if the price is right. I think it very well may be. What say ye?