Whereas companies like Oculus and Samsung are building businesses around virtual reality, Microsoft has embraced the hologram.
Microsoft introduced Windows Holographic on Wednesday, a new venture that uses a headset called a HoloLens to bring augmented reality experiences to life.
The technology essentially places an overlay on real environments, enabling wearers of the HoloLens to turn their livingrooms into levels of the game “Minecraft,” for example, or let architects take clients through new constructions or scientists tour Mars.
When using the HoloStudio software, HoloLens users can also create their own holograms that can then be produced using 3D printers.
The wireless headset uses voice and gesture controls to navigate menus, with the goggles containing its own CPU and processors and sound. The lenses are clear, as opposed to Oculus Rift’s dark visor.
The device has obvious uses for Hollywood and content creators, and Microsoft announced the product this week as a way to get the content community thinking about possible concepts to produce and have ready when the first headsets get into the hands of consumers later this year.
Microsoft promoted Holographic as it touted the capabilities of Windows 10, its revamped operating system that launches later this year — for free to current owners of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 for a year. Every Windows 10-powered device will support Holographics.
There are currently 1.5 billion users of Windows around the world, according to Microsoft chief Satya Nadella.
“We want to move people from using Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows,” he said of the latest enhancements to Microsoft’s core product during a press event in Redmond, Wash.