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Hands-on with Microsoft's HoloLens: The 3D augmented reality future is now

Mark Hachman | Jan. 23, 2015
We played virtual 3D Minecraft. We walked the surface of Mars. Windows' holographic potential may still be in progress, but it's already pretty amazing.

A surprisingly polished Holo Studio
You're probably familiar with Project Spark, Microsoft's collaborative venture that aims to turn gamers into game creators. I'm not really sold on the concept of Spark, but the similarly polished Holo Studio looks fun. 

Holo Studio posits that augmented reality is the gateway into 3D printing , and provides a collection of virtual objects to stick together, to form a koala or a truck or an X-Wing fighter. The tools were robust and showed a surprisingly cohesive design aesthetic--this looked like a product, not a demo. We didn't have a chance to play with it, but Microsoft demo personnel created 3D objects on the fly, painting them and "magnetizing" them together, even using oral "copy" commands to reproduce several steps again and again.

Not for dorks
I asked one of our stylishly dressed guides: Would HoloLens be something she'd be seen in? No, another chimed in, because this wasn't designed to be worn outside, but inside, "for work and play." That's a smart answer, as it avoids the whole "Glasshole" insult and makes HoloLens a product to be shared among friends and colleagues.

When will we see HoloLens? It will be out in the Windows 10 timeframe, according to Microsoft--whenever that is. (And it doesn't necessarily mean at launch, either.) 

The cynic in me says that HoloLens becomes the Kinect of the smartphone: an amazing technology that ends up with little real-world impact. I just slapped that cynic. Let's see what you have in store for us, Microsoft.


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