If you've followed Microsoft's briefing yesterday you've heard a lot about Windows 10 and other new stuff. There were some things everybody was expecting, and some unexpected, like the HoloLens. But, hey, you might think, the Oculus Rift is already old news, nobody cares about Google Glass anymore, and Magic Leap announced a similar thing months ago; the HoloLens is just another device in the big tech-bubble that is VR. Nothing worth caring about.
Here's how you're wrong:
Big time commitment to Virtual Reality
Microsoft isn't just a small company with lots of money, like Facebook backed Oculus. They are a big company with their OS on almost every computer that doesn't fit your pocket. This number doesn't come without responsible. Every user is a critic. After Windows 8 is Microsoft just too aware of that. Windows 10 will be what Windows 7 was Windows Vista. A significant step forward, but also a publicity re-release to get rid of the Windows 8 stain. Nothing should go wrong with Windows 10.
Yet here comes Microsoft and announces that their, possible, gimmicky HoloLens runs Windows 10. And they took a step further and even challenged Oculus, Magic Leap, and others to use Windows 10 as their platform. This makes Windows 10 the first OS that support not just for VR, but also for AR. So it would be just a program/gimmick that you install on your PC and have fun with once in a while, like the Rift, but this make it at least possible to have a full VR computing experience. From the boot-up to the shut-down and everything in between. Neither Google, nor Apple have this level of support for either of them, at least non that is announced (please remember Google Glass was never AR, but a HUD at best).
Microsoft is not only the first company to announce this level of support for VR/AR, but also with it's connection to Windows 10, show a level of commitment to this type of technology that the others haven't dared yet. Nothing should go wrong with Windows 10, this also means nothing should go wrong with HoloLens (which is also why we probably won't see it this year on the market).
Microsoft will dedicate a big part of their budget, development, and overall strategy towards making VR/AR a thing. That's the first thing that should make you excited.
It's an open challenge to others
Lets say HoloLens is in it's early stages right and we won't see in for several years (like the Rift once was). Lets say it's not that great, and other companies will make a better version. This still means other companies now have to do something in this direction. People are now expecting Google to show off their cooperation with Magic Leap at their next Briefing. People will expect Apple to make a even better version, at least when it comes to appearance. And the Oculus Rift now gained another competitor, alongside Sony's Project Morpheus. Maybe this will lead Oculus, or Sony to finally announce the commercial release of their device. Nvidea also proposed a similar device years ago, they will also have something to say about HoloLens.
It's a new player on the field, and competition is always great for the consumer, and it is great for VR/AR as a whole. This is the second thing you should be excited about.
Quality Virtual Reality
OK, this is a bit of stretch now. I don't know how the HoloLens works, and I haven't tried it myself (probably won't till the commercial release, sadly). Yet I've followed the 3D buzz ever since I watched Avatar a third time in the cinema, just to kiss the 3D heaven again. If you've played with the Rift you know that it's not perfect. The framerate must not drop under a certain number, not everywhere you look you have a sharp image, and over time it strains your eyes. You can play a couple of hours at best. This is mostly to the physical limitation that come with putting a lens in front of a screen so you can wear it.
The human brain uses various cues and tricks to create a sense of depth, and positional awareness. This sense gets calibrated over years of real life you, and if one of them fails it's most likely because you're sick. That's why you feel sick when you watch a bad 3D movie, or play the Rift for to long. There are cues that the Rift fail to simulate in its 3D recreating that make you feel sick. The one it can't get rid of (in it's current iteration) is the depth of field effect. If you focus on an object, everything before, or behind it becomes lightly blurred. A lens and a traditional screen can't recreate this effect. You may won't notice or mind it most of the time, but it's the very thing that puts strain on your eyes in prolonged gaming session. Your eye uses it's stereoscopic 3D sense to focus on an object at a certain distance, but the screen of the rift always has the same distance.
Again, I don't know how the HoloLens exactly work, nor have I tried it, but if I understand it correctly, it's using some sort of light field projector to project light directly into your eye. This is also how Magic Leap explained their device, by the way. Without going too much into the details of how this works (as I admittedly don't understand it all myself), this means they can actually simulate the depth of field effect, that the Rift can't.
Alongside it's dedicated GPU, to keep the framerate hight, and it's Holo Processor Unity, to track the world, your eyes, and generally keep the lag low, the HoloLens could be the first device to promise the continuous use of a VR/AR headset. You could work for it all day long, you could play with all weekend long, and you could wear it wherever you're going. All with not more strain to your eye, than a LCD display may create.
Again, this is speculation on my part, but the mere concept should excite you.
It makes 2015 2015
We probably won't get any hoverboard this year, but I think it's worth pointing out that Back to the Future 2 did also foreshadow that we'll wear weird glasses on the table, while we eat with our family, in 2015. That would honestly be a glasshole thing to do (it's your family!), but HoloLens at least shows that this actually has become a possible presence in the last 25 years, and the movie gained quite some believability.
I don't know about you, but yesterdays Briefing made 2015 a much more exiting year.