Electronic Product Design

Tuesday, 17 March 2015 00:00 Written by

hologramHere Come The Holograms…

I’m sure most of our readers can relate to Red Dwarf in some-way. It has so far spanned ten series, and was back in 2012 following a ten year hiatus, bringing Lister, Rimmer, Kat, Holly and Kryten back to our screens. It’s a cult favourite with a massive following.

It also featured some relatively futuristic ideas for the time of its release, particularly the idea of a hologram – Rimmer - to represent a life already spent. Microsoft have demonstrated a new wearable technology at their recent press announcement, featuring an unprecedented interactive holographic interface. It is somewhat mind-blowing, I must admit!

Microsoft HoloLens

It is in augmented reality wearable headset that will overlay holographic information onto the world around you. The headset features a CPU, GPU and first-of-its-kind ‘holographic processor,’ as well as motion and environmental sensors to capture almost everything in your personal area.

The HoloLens is extremely ambitious. Early usage experiences have seen reporters playing interactive games in mocked-up living rooms, fixing electrical circuitry with the aid of a holographic electrician and interacting with the Martian surface alongside the rover, Curiosity. HoloLens looks, on face value, to be delivering a completely new method of interaction with the world around us.

To create the holographic images, light bounces around the holographic processor millions of times between layers of red, green and blue. The photons – light particles – are then processed through the HoloLens’ goggles where they reach the back of your eye, producing a perfect hologram.

The Maker

Alex Kipman first pitched to Microsoft some seven years ago. His pitch would go on to become the massively popular Xbox Kinect, now fully integrated into the Xbox One ecosystem, enabling players to use voice and motion controls to interact with games, movies and more.

HoloLens will make that seem like a day in the park. Kipman describes this as the next era of computing, and that our understanding of the analogue world is about to change:

“It’s about the analogue universe,” he says. “And the analogue universe has a fundamentally different rule set.”

We spend our time entering commands into the computer via our keyboards. Computers respond to our commands. HoloLens will enable a transition of computing into the physical world, where we overlay all the necessary information in front of us, using an array of voice and gestures to sift, mould and manipulate data as we require.

Seen It Before?

Yes, comparisons will be made with existing wearables. But this is nothing like Google Glass, and is certainly different from the Occulus Rift and the other current market options. By tricking our brains into perceiving light as matter, the HoloLens will function in an enormous number of situations, guiding us through more nuanced and complex activities that would previously have been untenable.

It is a daring move from Microsoft under the leadership of Satya Nadella, though the project is the result of a seven year project that still isn’t complete. If it seems amazing, that’s because it is. Microsoft will aim to produce the wearable ‘in the Windows 10 timeframe,’ whilst also aiming to keep the price affordable for regular consumers.

I for one look forward to a trial.


Image courtesy of: bluebay / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


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