Microsoft has finally revealed its answer to the virtual reality trend. It's called HoloLens, an augmented reality headset that projects holograms onto the physical world, allowing you to interact with virtual objects in 3D space.
We've got to say, based on the demos Microsoft showed on Wednesday, the device is very impressive.
The headset is essentially a cross between the bulky, fully enclosed Oculus Rift and the lightweight, unobtrusive Google Glass headset.
But where Oculus Rift completely immerses the user in a virtual world and Google Glass just provides a tiny, semi-transparent overlay, HoloLens seems to find the sweet spot between the two. (Videos via Oculus, Google)
For example, a writer for Mashable says HoloLens works, because it's not Google Glass.
"Unlike Glass, which was sold as something you wear everywhere, HoloLens is something you take off. ... Part of the problem Google Glass ran into was one of perception. Few people wanted to be a Glasshole. Fewer still wanted to be seen with other Glassholes."
Glassholes are, of course, Google Glass users who make others uncomfortable with the device.
"Oh these? No. These don't have x-ray vision ... yet," said the Google Glass user. (Video via Mashable)
A writer for The Next Web called HoloLens "the kind of thing I could never have imagined Microsoft dreaming up."
And that sentiment is likely part of the reason Microsoft's HoloLens is making so many headlines. It's a refreshing bit of innovation from a company that's frankly been lacking in that department.
Still, Polygon has taken a soberer approach to the news, reminding us of Microsoft's last attempt at virtual technology: Kinect. (Video via Microsoft)
"The Kinect's long journey, and Microsoft's attempts to turn it into a mainstream product, came to an end when it was removed as a mandatory pack-in with the Xbox One hardware."
Microsoft will need to make HoloLens a much more compelling, functional and useful device than Kinect if it's going to be successful — especially given the size of that headset it's wanting people to strap to their head.