How Windows Holographic can succeed where Google Glass failed
Here’s the thing. I don’t get Google Glass. I never have. At first, it seemed like a Bluetooth headset, only more pretentious. It was a vague concept that you can use to “connect without disconnecting,” or while “staying in the moment” or some other kind of marketing drivel. Then it was priced at $1,500, and I only stopped laughing about that last week, which is when they coincidentally pulled Google Glass off the shelves, presumably with a dust buster close at hand.
Earlier, we were introduced to Microsoft Holographic. At first, when they used the word “holograms” I perked up to take notice. I mean is there anything that is more Star Trek than holograms? Then I saw a clip of the hologram concept and I saw the headpiece. I was a little let down. But then, Microsoft kept going. And my interest returned.
Basically what Microsoft is proposing is really phenomenal in a surprisingly current-tech kind of way. Holograms are basically going to be a combination of the movie Minority Report, augmented reality, and Occulus Rift. This is a much more compelling combination than Google Glass for a few very compelling reasons.
A phone on your face
Google Glass is meant to be a smartphone companion. It basically did everything your phone did, but it was on your face. If that sounds unappealing to you, then you’re an intelligent creature. Strapping a phone to your face is not “the future”. It’s not even the present – at least not one that I want to live in.
More importantly, whenever I wondered how Google glass could enhance my life, I would look at what it could do. There was never any real purpose to Google glass except to put your phone on your face. It was very vague – “you can [accomplish XYZ task] without looking at your phone.” I could not fathom why I’d want to spend $1,500, or look like a Steve Urkel/Borg mutant just to not look at my phone, which I also spent pretty good money on.
This could be the future
But Microsoft Holographic hit a lot of key points for me.
First, the term Holographic is brilliant in all it’s marketing glory. Nothing inspires visions of the future more than the concept of the hologram. Yes, it’s a marketing buzz word, but who cares, they’re freaking HOLOGRAMS! So, Microsoft gets points right out of the chute. By itself, that’s nothing to write home about, but cool points are cool points.
But the proposed functionality of Microsoft Holograms are where the real gold is. No longer is this a vague “you can just live with these on your face” type of concept. This headset – which looks no less ridiculous (but slightly less boxy) than Occulus Rift I might point out – has some clearly defined uses in its future. This is going to be a tool, not an accessory, and that is going to be a major differentiator.
Give it purpose
When you pick up a HoloLens, you will have a purpose for it. Maybe it will be to watch TV, or to play a game, or to build a 3D model, or to Skype. This will be a device that is not meant to live on your face. It will be on your face when you need it, and on your desk when you don’t.
The applications for this are limited only by imagination. But why count on your imagination when Microsoft showed all of us some real world applications? 3D Minecraft certainly was a compelling one. My son is obsessed with Minecraft, but allowing him to walk into a world that he made would be nothing short of magical for him.
Building a 3D model is another fascinating concept. Referring back to Minority Report, the idea of taking physical pieces and assembling them together and then sending that to a 3D printer is an incredibly compelling reason to give these things a serious look.
Right tool for the right job
But overall, it needs to be repeated that this will be a tool, not an implant. It will do more than your phone is capable of on its own. It will do more than your tablet or computer is capable of. It will be used in applications beyond just gaming and VR. This is going to be a tool for which many people have a specific use-case, rather than just a general concept of “it’s new and very Googley”.
What it boils down to now will be price and market. Will these be prohibitively expensive? Will they be targeted to the right kind of people for the right reasons? That all comes down to marketing, but if the same team is behind that as was behind the name “holograms,” and the presentation at large, then I’m hopeful for the future of Holographic.
It was all summed up in the tag line at the end of the presentation. Microsoft and Windows Do. You will be able to do things with Microsoft Holograms, whether what you’re “do” ing is working, playing, relaxing, or what have you. Coming from a company that developed the Kinect system, I’m excited to see what this product will bring. You should be too.
Leader image courtesy of Mashable