Windows Holographic can put you on Mars, in Minecraft

For years, a skunkworks team at Microsoft has been quietly exploring augmenting reality with virtual holograms. The fruits of their efforts were unveiled during today's Windows 10 showcase, and the unexpected demo was arguably the highlight of the event.

Dubbed Windows Holographic, the scheme looks like a form of augmented reality. It relies on HoloLens, which Kinect alum and Microsoft Fellow Alex Kipman described as a "fully untethered holographic computer." The head-mounted unit projects holographs—basically virtual 3D objects—onto see-through lenses through which users can view the rest of the world. A surround-sound system provides the appropriate audio cues, while an array of sensors monitors the environment and the user's actions.

Sensor input is processed by a proprietary "holographic processor" of Microsoft's own design. This chip is used to map the surrounding area, determine where the user is looking, interpret gestures, and monitor voice input. Everything is handled by the HoloLens hardware, with no need for external cameras or auxiliary processing.

An external machine isn't required because the HoloLens has PC hardware built in. A "high-end CPU and GPU" are integrated into the headset, though Kipman didn't reveal more specifics on that front. It seems unlikely that Microsoft has squeezed potent desktop hardware—or even a discrete GPU—into the head-mounted chassis. My money's on an ultrabook-class Intel processor with integrated graphics, but I wouldn't be surprised by custom silicon derived from the Xbone's SoC.

Minecraft takes over a living room

Holo Studio in action

The HoloLens headset will be available in the same time frame as Windows 10. Microsoft has developed its own Holo Studio software for creating virtual holograms, and it's working with developers on third-party apps. Minecraft integration is on the menu, of course, and so is support for exporting virtual objects to 3D printers. Microsoft has also been collaborating with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which plans to use HoloLens to explore a virtual version of Mars based on images taken from the Martian surface. Pretty slick.

Comments closed
    • exilon
    • 5 years ago

    According to PCWorld this thing runs on Cherry Trail.

    • tootercomputer
    • 5 years ago

    As noted by Maff below, watch this demo at this link from the MS presentation, as he noted, at the 1 hour 53 minute mark. Hey, this is pretty cool amazing stuff.

    [url<]http://www.neowin.net/news/watch-microsofts-windows-10-event-live-right-here[/url<]

    • yogibbear
    • 5 years ago

    These videos and photos are all fake “representations” right? This thing doesn’t actually have holographic tabletops and carpets installed everywhere…. so why the hell is there not actual footage showing what this thing actually projects / looks like from the users perspective? Why all the BS fakery? I want to believe this is the awesomest thing ever. But I have NO IDEA what the hell it is actually doing.

      • sweatshopking
      • 5 years ago

      it’s creating the illusion of them through the lens. you’ll have to read the reviews from reviewers where they do seem to think it’s pretty amazing.

      • Maff
      • 5 years ago

      They actually showed it live on stage on the event, watcheable here: [url<]http://www.neowin.net/news/watch-microsofts-windows-10-event-live-right-here[/url<] at around the 1 hour 53 mark.

      • mako
      • 5 years ago

      I think you’re right. Engadget said that “There’s a rectangular area in the center of your vision that acts as your “window” into the reality HoloLens presents.”

    • Anovoca
    • 5 years ago

    Nice, we are getting there! Now I just need to download a copy of Sandra Bullock and figure out how exactly to use the three sea shells.

    • alloyD
    • 5 years ago

    Anyone here watch Denno Coil?

    • Zizy
    • 5 years ago

    This isn’t true hologram 🙁 Looks nice, but I will wait for the real deal 😛

    • Voldenuit
    • 5 years ago

    You all know what this means, right?

    If Hololens is the future, this means that all of TNG was just a fantasy, and Geordi was the only real character.

    Think about that.

    • joyzbuzz
    • 5 years ago

    This IS a game changer and just what they say it is, a wearable holographic computer.

    Paul Thurrott, who is notoriously cynical when it comes to ‘futuristic’ gadget announcements like this, came away from using it deeply impressed. He said the video doesn’t begin to do it justice, the 3d images were very detailed and seeming solid.

    Once this releases there won’t be an under 16 yr. old Minecraft player in the world that won’t be screaming for this for Christmas. Or birthday. Or RIGHT NOW!!! For one small example.

    The potential of this for gaming is ridiculous.

    • Deanjo
    • 5 years ago

    These could bring “playing tricks on the past out guy at the party” to a whole new level.

    • danny e.
    • 5 years ago

    Make a real desktop OS again and then waste time on side projects.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 5 years ago

      It’s not like this unprecedented.

      Look at this as the Microsoft Watch, the Zune, the Kin, the Windows Mobile, the Windows Phone, the Surface (non-Pro), the HD DVD, the Games for Windows Live, the WVC, the whatevertheycalledtheirwannabeWordpress, the Bing, the Cortana of VR.

      This is how long Oculus has been stalling and not coming out. Companies have had time to R&D, develop, market, and now virtually release product in the time it’s taken Luckey to sell out and still not release anything but glorified beta kits.

      Meanwhile, companies are moving on beyond VR at this point, but I’m pretty sure Microsoft won’t be the company that brings us the VR replacement tech because Microsoft doesn’t have the wherewithal to suffer the long uptake that a product class like this will require them to. They’ll release it, watch it get the same hesitant doubt everything like this they release gets now after all those earlier failures-to-impact, and then they’ll get bored. It’ll take all of two months. Then they’ll coast on middling expectations, bad word of mouth, and slowly drain all funding from said teams until at last one dark Friday they’ll cancel the product, hoping the press don’t get word before the weekend.

      Naturally, in the digital age, Fridays don’t matter, but then that’s Microsoft for you. Always behind the times.

        • gamoniac
        • 5 years ago

        [quote<]...because Microsoft doesn't have the wherewithal to suffer the long uptake that a product class like this will require them to...[/quote<] Errr... Last I checked, Microsoft is pretty darn rich, and the Holographic project has been going on in secrecy for seven years.

        • sweatshopking
        • 5 years ago

        microsoft is pretty much ahead of everyone these days. Apple makes tech fit nicely together, but they don’t INVENT anything. Microsoft’s R&D is almost always world leading, though they tend to suck at getting it to market. That’s apple’s forte.

        couple things:
        1. the microsoft band is doing VERY well, and is sold out CONSTANTLY, and has already had significant updates – though i realize you’re not talking about it, but it’s the replacement for the product you ARE referring to.
        2. windows mobile was around for YEARS, then replaced by windows phone, which is STILL AROUND, AND A MAJOR PART OF THIS ANNOUCEMENT.
        3. THEY’RE STILL SELLING, UPDATING, AND SUPPORTING THE SURFACE’S.
        4. HDDVD WASN’T A MICROSOFT PRODUCT.
        5. bing is getting MORE integration and is CORE to their future
        6. cortana is ALSO CORE.

        If your point was that they dropped all that stuff, as you suggest, you should have picked stuff THEY ACTUALLY DROPPED, CAUSE THERE’S LOTS OF IT.

      • Klimax
      • 5 years ago

      I didn’t know Microsoft has only one or two teams…

      • sweatshopking
      • 5 years ago

      AREN’T THEY MAKING A REAL DESKTOP OS?! WHAT DID YOU WANT WITH 10 YOU DIDN’T SEE?

    • geekl33tgamer
    • 5 years ago

    Guess I better exercise more caution and forward planning when placing my lava streams. The wife would kill me if I spill any on the carpet…

      • Anovoca
      • 5 years ago

      Anyone who has ever been 5 can tell you the carpet already is lava. psch

    • Deanjo
    • 5 years ago

    The earliest and most loyal adopters will probably be the POV porn addicts.

      • auxy
      • 5 years ago

      Why do you think I got a Rift? (‘ω’)

        • willmore
        • 5 years ago

        Boooooo!

        • Deanjo
        • 5 years ago

        Because you’re a Facebook fan?

          • auxy
          • 5 years ago

          Naap. Don’t even use it. (‘ω’)

          I had a myspace once upon a time.

            • Deanjo
            • 5 years ago

            Must of been after your geocities website. 😛

            • auxy
            • 5 years ago

            Must [i<]have[/i<], Mr. President.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 5 years ago

      Pr0nz is like the new-age NASA.

      When pr0nz calls, we come. We follow. We stick around.

      Same was true of VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, the Intarwebz, and streaming. Pr0nz will get us where we need, have no doubt. 😉

        • auxy
        • 5 years ago

        [quote<]When pr0nz calls, we come.[/quote<]( *´艸`)

    • Voldenuit
    • 5 years ago

    [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/48040151@N06/15714654024/<]I already have augmented reality in my house, thank you very much.[/url<]

    • joyzbuzz
    • 5 years ago

    One of the two AMD custom SOC’s design wins they announced perhaps?

    If that capability is to be contained in the glasses as they indicated it will require something on the order of a Zen/GCN 4 SOC on Samsung’s 14nm process.

    • Laykun
    • 5 years ago

    #marketing

    Pretty much everything about the HoloLens sounds like the promises of augmented reality that we’ve been hearing for years, yet when we see the implementations they have never lived up to our expectations. I see a lot of marketing videos, not a lot of actual content. Read the wired article and it’s the worst piece of writing I’ve ever read with no helpful information or even a half way decent description of the experience.

    • Voldenuit
    • 5 years ago

    I’ve been waiting for augmented reality for so long, and this looks like the most polished version I’ve seen yet.

    EDIT: Then again, I said the same thing about Courier, and look where that ended up.

      • Terra_Nocuus
      • 5 years ago

      Dammit, Voldenuit! You just had to say it, didn’t you?!

      • sweatshopking
      • 5 years ago

      yeah but, THEY’RE MAKING THIS ONE.

      • Klimax
      • 5 years ago

      Small difference. Courier was never announced, this was.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 5 years ago

    I’ll wait until direct neural implants. Seeing stuff with your eyes is so 20th (and all others before it) century.

      • Deanjo
      • 5 years ago

      I got a Thunderbolt neural implant just last year. The downside is that you forget it is hooked up and nearly yank your head off when you reach the cords end. In hindsight I should have waited for the bluetooth version.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 5 years ago

      Still waiting on mind control.

      “You have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy…”

        • Maff
        • 5 years ago

        Luckily we don’t have to wait for thought control, since that’s already widely implemented.

          • sweatshopking
          • 5 years ago

          EXACTLY! SEE MY POSTS FOR A GREAT EXAMPLE!

      • Orb
      • 5 years ago

      Sheeesh. There’ll be no neural implants. But nanobots which roam freely inside your brain and give you whatever sensation you need to feel. They can use energy directly from your nerve cells too. No crappy wires being plugged into your brain and seamless transition to the virtual world! Then there will be special datastoragebots so you will be able to recall every memory since the day you were born – even freeze time and roam around in those memories. We could do so much more than what Nature has given us.

        • Maff
        • 5 years ago

        Sheeesh, like we would need to rely on primitive biological neurons for thinking. We’ll just upload our primitive, limited and utterly flawed conciousnesses into an artificial construct where our minds can soar. Providing us with practically limitless amounts of reliable connectivatory® power, and shutting out those pesky hormonal and external influences.

        And it will all be extremely boring

          • Orb
          • 5 years ago

          You won’t be human without those pesky harmones telling you to go find that perfect girl or get a good job so your kids can have that perfect life. But I can definitely see a future where a bunch of us would not want to feel any emotion or pain and just roam forever in virtual universe. What a life!

    • superjawes
    • 5 years ago

    Oh sure, this sounds like a GREAT idea…right up until the first Creeper attack…

      • geekl33tgamer
      • 5 years ago

      …or someone grief’s your house – Imagine that!!!

        • Voldenuit
        • 5 years ago

        Binding of Isaac in your basement, Fatal Frame when you go to bed at night.

    • sweatshopking
    • 5 years ago

    THIS THING LOOKS LIKE IT [i<] MAY [/i<] BE INTERESTING. WE WILL HAVE TO SEE. IT DOESN'T HAVE THE GOOGLE GLASS "WEAR ME EVERYWHERE" CONCEPT, AND IS CLEARLY TRYING TO GO FOR A DIFFERENT USAGE CASE, MORE LIKE OCULUS, WHERE YOU PUT IT ON, USE IT, AND THEN TAKE IT OFF. IT ALSO DOESN'T TAKE PICTURES OF MY WANG WHEN I'M IN THE URINAL BESIDE YOU (THOUGH IF YOU WANT, YOU CAN USE YOUR CELL PHONE. I'M A GIVING GUY.) LOOKS LIKE A PROJECT TO KEEP AN EYE ON, AND ONE I'D LIKE TO TRY OUT. I CAN'T BELIEVE I SAID THAT I WANTED TO TRY A MICROSOFT PRODUCT. EVERYTHING THEY MAKE IS SO ugh TERRIBLE.

      • joyzbuzz
      • 5 years ago

      Huh? Can’t hear you, speak up please.

      • blastdoor
      • 5 years ago

      I agree it seems more conceptually appealing that Google Glass.

        • Liron
        • 5 years ago

        In the same way that a Nikon D7000 seems more conceptually appealing than a GoPro Hero4…

      • Deanjo
      • 5 years ago

      But on the plus side you could read your posts in with the Star Wars scroll effect that should satisfy the nerd in you.

      • ferdinandh
      • 5 years ago

      So when will techreport just convert every character to lower case when you use more uppercase than lower case?
      Right now I just scroll until I don’t see uppercase anymore.

        • sweatshopking
        • 5 years ago

        THEN YOU’RE MISSING OUT ON MY GENIUS. SINCE I WROTE MOST OF TR’S FRONT END CODE, THERE IS NO WAY WHAT YOU’RE SUGGESTING TO HAPPEN WILL HAPPEN.

    • orik
    • 5 years ago

    But can it run Crysis?

      • sweatshopking
      • 5 years ago

      AT THIS POINT, PROBABLY.

      • GasBandit
      • 5 years ago

      WinHolo vs Oculus Rift!

      What a time to be alive.

      • Generic
      • 5 years ago

      Watch as I turn your red thumbs to green, sir.

      [i<][b<]"But can it play Five Nights at Freddy's?"[/i<][/b<]

      • Liron
      • 5 years ago

      But can it play Dejarik??!

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