At the Windows 10 Launch event this week, Microsoft sparked excitement over a new product announcement: the new HoloLens computer. It resembles a pair of ski goggles and displays holograms overlayed over the real world.
Apart from being digital eyewear,its uses and design is much different than Google Glass. And that may be a good thing seeing how Google Glass halted sales a few days ago.
“If you are in the head-mounted display business then, yes, I would think you would take into account what has happened with Google Glass,” Gartner analyst Brian Blau said via email to PC World. “While a direct comparison isn’t really fair, as HoloLens and Glass are really different products, I think that Microsoft will have a few key points to consider.”
Google Glass has struggled with image quality. This is where Microsoft has upped the ante and displaying high-quality images.
“In the case of Glass, the graphics fidelity is low, and I always felt that it was lacking in the category so much that the device would be limited by the type and amount of information that could be displayed,” Blau said after testing the product.
According to Ian Campbell, CEO of Nucleus Research, the device in contrast to Glass is not meant to be worn constantly but rather in specific situations. Its bulky appearance is not something many would wish to wear in public, opposed to Glass’s minimalist design.
“Google envisioned their device being perfectly normal for a person to wear out to dinner. Microsoft doesn’t see that. On first pass, Microsoft is taking a much more targeted approach than Google,” said Campbell.
HoloLens will be used for specific tasks. In the event, Microsoft demonstrated it being used to make Skype calls, play immersive video games or control industrial design software. It can be used primarily at home or the workplace.
“There’s a market in business, gaming and consumer, but I think the market will be around specific tasks rather than the general approach Google took with Glass,” Campbell said.
Apps of HoloLens will also work on Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset acquired by Facebook. The user experience will be different between the two products, which as Blau says is because Rift tracks movement differently than HoloLens.
“I’m sure you’ll see many apps that can cross over, but because HoloLens has a semi-opaque display and Rift has a fully immersive display, there will be many apps that just don’t make sense on the other device,” he said.
The new device will be tied to Windows 10. Developers are awaiting details on price and a release date to start creating apps.
“Developers will need more information before committing significant resources, especially volume manufacturing. Microsoft needs to sell a lot of units to entice developers, which means apps that are integrated with Windows 10,” said Campbell.