In stride with the growing popularity of virtual reality, Microsoft took a different approach on headset entertainment, focusing on augmented reality with HoloLens. The development kit for the device launched with a $3,000 price tag on Feb. 29 and will ship late March.
Augmented reality, unlike virtual reality, is all about holograms. Although, just like virtual reality, it requires a headset. The technology is already wildly popular in video games, making appearances on the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita with the use of the system and special cards.
HoloLens provides a more unique take on this concept. Instead of using a gaming device, it will come in the form of a headset. It’s completely self-contained, meaning it won’t require any other devices or wires to work. It will allow users to interact with 3D holograms with gestures, voices and gaze.
When it was announced and demoed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2015, the device was said to use a specific type of lens. This lens was placed over one of the cameras during the presentation and allowed holograms to be viewed by the person operating the device only.
As Microsoft’s technical fellow Alex Kipman explains in an announcement blog post, HoloLens operates by using a special sort of projection system to create the holograms in real time. Built-in sensors help detect the environment, and cameras will allow users to record mixed reality captures — videos and images of the physical world and the interactive holograms — that can be shared all over the world, even with those who don’t have a HoloLens.
As of right now, the HoloLens is still in development and requires an application. To apply, be sure you are a Windows Insider who lives in the U.S. or Canada. All apps and hardware are currently only being offered in English. Only those approved will be allowed to purchase the HoloLens at this time.
The HoloLens will officially start shipping March 30 for $3,000.