back to article Hololens for biz shocker: Surprisingly, it doesn't totally suck

At $3,000 Microsoft’s Hololens isn’t going to be in too many gamers’ Christmas stockings this year, being more of a chance for corporates to work out the business case for augmented reality. I did manage to get my hands on, and head in, a Hololens set. I did so thanks to Kazendi who – for £17,500 – can knock out a fixed-price …

  1. Known Hero


    But I don't have £3k.... and even if i did, I wouldn't buy it at that price.

    I'm not going to lie, I am super excited to see the finalized product, I really hope it will be able to replace my monitor setup at work, and augment my current one at home. 2/3 of your vision, sounds like they fixed the letterbox issue :)

    1. Halfmad

      Used Oculus Rift DK1/2 and have previously owned a consumer version, got to say that I'm more interested in augmented reality than I am virtual which I think still needs a good 5-10 years to develop properly.

      Augmented has far more use in business too but also for gaming. Whilst VR is great if you're gaming in a cockpit environment I find it a little hit and miss if you're character is moving in game but your not - feels odd.

      That's where I think augmented reality could be a big win, if MS don't drop the ball like they usually do.

      1. Boothy Silver badge

        Whist I agree with you on the business side, I think for gaming, VR rather than AR is going to dominate.

        AR isn't immersive and that's by design, so for most games, VR will always trump AR (imho). In fact I suspect most genres of games wouldn't be playable in AR at all, or at least not very well.

        I could see AR being good for table top type games, games with a 3rd person, top down type view, such as strategy games etc. But that''s a fairy small market. For anything first person, or role playing type game, which covers a huge chunk of the gaming market, I can't see how AR could be used effectively there, being able to see you're still in your living room, would just break any immersion.

        But all this being said, VR (other than for cockpit type games), needs to be room-scale. Sitting in a seat with an XBox controller in hand, is doing VR a disservice currently, even potentially damaging a new market by imposing restrictions that shouldn't really be there.

        From your comment, (cockpits and moving characters in-game when you are not moving), I'm guessing your experience is limited to the Rift, so seated or standing, using an XBox controller? If so I suggest you go out to a PC World or similar, where they have the HTC Vive on display and give room-scale with motion controllers a go. It changes VR completely, and makes the Rift look positively dated in comparison (although I will admit the Rifts headset does look better than the Vives!).

        1. Danhalen

          I absolutely love my Vive. Despite the expected g1 niggles, it's still a fantastic piece of kit. I've yet to try a rift but I'm looking forward to seeing how well the new touch controls work.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        I think Pokemon Go demonstrates that GPS and mapping are now (almost?) at the point where the real world can be used as a stage. I also know that you're not alone in being uncomfortable with "eyes moving but balance organs static" and AR games are presumably mostly immune to that problem. What I can't imagine is *quite how awesome* it would have been if all those games we played at primary school had been enhanced with a head-up display.

        I assume that various groups are already working on these, so the parents of the next generation will spend as much time trying to get the kids to come in as the previous generation spent trying to get them to go out.

    2. Yesnomaybe

      I want 9 of these

      Going to give one to every member of my team. I can probably find money in the budget. I think it is a sound investment. It will give us the licence to basically ignore people we don't want to deal with, walk right past them like they weren't even there. If we can come up with some kind of practical purpose for the Hololens then great, but I'm not actually that worried about even turning them on. Productivity will soar!

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

    The expensive inspector is expensive because he goes on site and makes sure that the insurance knows the state of the building to be insured.

    If I were an insurance company, I sure as hell would not accept a virtual tour of a building unless the company being insured agreed to virtual insurance - in other words if anything happens they don't get reimbursed.

    And gestures. I can't stop picturing a guy in a suit waving around frantically during the whole call because his PowerPoint presentation isn't going well due to a botched Windows 1 0 update. Gets me giggling.

    Really guys, video conferencing already has a hell of a time taking off, you think silver-haired suits paid 1000$/hour are going to don one of these things and talk blindly in their conference room ?

    If there is one thing high-paid suits cannot stand, it's looking ridiculous. Gestures ain't helping on that point.

    1. Fizzle

      Re: "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

      "If there is one thing high-paid suits cannot stand, it's looking ridiculous. Gestures ain't helping on that point."

      You haven't been to any London Pub of a Friday evening to see many business suits-type people behaving stupendously ridiculously together over bottles of champers then!

    2. AdamT

      Re: "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

      My reading of the article was that the inspector from the insurance company would be wearing the kit. He then just wanders around and, if he's been there before, just need to "look" at everything necessary. Possibly taking a few close-ups of fire-extinguishers, etc. to see serial numbers or whatever. Then, if it all works correctly, doesn't then need to spend hours/days going through his notes, working out where each photo was taken, cross checking every serial number with a test certificate, etc.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

        > If I were an insurance company, I sure as hell would not accept a virtual tour of a building

        It's just documentation, just as a video recording of the building would be, or a receipt, or the insurance companies' paper or digital records. The documentation is never the actual object it describes. 'This is not a pipe' etc.

        Ultimately, in the scenario outlined, it is just a device to make the documentation of physical objects easier. This can aid design - and the nature of design is that it is worth doing well because it will save you money and headaches down the road. 'Measure twice, cut once'

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

          I sometimes have to do similar checks on site myself or have to accompany the insurance guy. Personally, I'd rather use a tablet and some sort of augmented reality documentation.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

          @AdamT and Dave 126.

          What you are describing is the same use case as Google glass - a method of documenting what you are looking at and including pictures where necessary.

      2. John Sanders

        Re: "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

        Thus ensuring software does all the thinking and relegating a human being to be more than an autonomous body for the software.

        And they say mobiles are bad for your brains...

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

      If there is one thing high-paid suits cannot stand, it's looking ridiculous.

      You've never seen a major presentation by a high-paid suit then? Never seen any get through one without making an utter prat of themselves at least once. If not looking like a dick was a really big deal, Powerpoint wouldn't sell at all.

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

      I can imagine the first thing the BOFH would do would be to hack this and the lift so the boss can take a little fall.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "evaluating the insurance risks for buildings"

        All the time while I was reading that, I just kept thinking of the BOFH episode with the VR headset and rather large and warm battery pack..

  3. Little Mouse Silver badge

    But can it play...

    Crysis Doom II?

    Charging around the building laying waste to Revenants & Pain Elementals would be pretty awesome.

  4. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Anyone know how well it works with spectacles?

    Title says it. I absolutely need glasses to work with a monitor, could I use this without eye strain? (Not that I'm going to spend £3k on it, but prices fall.)

    1. Extra spicey vindaloo

      Re: Anyone know how well it works with spectacles?

      You can calibrate it while wearing specs, it feels a bit odd though. It works, the field of vision is tiny though.

    2. Wilco

      Re: Anyone know how well it works with spectacles?

      It works OK with specs. I have high prescription astigmatism and the headset fits well over my glasses, The headband is adjustable. There's a removable nose support that I tend to take off. I've worn it for quite long periods and it's not caused any eyestrain. Main problems are people in the office wanting a go and/or taking the piss.

      Generally it's a really interesting technology. If I can get the thing I'm working on working it might even be useful.

  5. Extra spicey vindaloo
    Thumb Down

    My company has one

    One of my colleagues is developing for Hololens. I tried it for about ten minutes but had the most horrendous migraine. The same as when I try to watch 3D Tv.

    Playing for a couple of hours in Oculus doesn't have the same effect on me.

    1. midcapwarrior

      Re: My company has one

      Working on a fix for this issue. Part of the problem is the lack of physical feedback coming to your body. Most people get a mild nausea though others do report headaches.

      Current best practice is taking breaks after no more than 30 minutes.

      1. Extra spicey vindaloo

        Re: My company has one

        It was less than 10 seconds before I started getting a headache, I had to remove them after 10 minutes as I couldn't stand it anymore. It is an interesting project though I just can't be a part of it.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: My company has one

          The problem (imo) is that these things screw with your eyes massively.

          When your walking around normally your eyes focus on something 5 metres away as if it's 5 metres away, and then make a minor change to view something one meter further away than that. With these sort of VR experiances you have a projection to a screen 2 inches/5cm in front of your eyes perfectly scaled as if it's sitting 5 metres away. Your eyes madly refocus between real objects 5 metres away, and virtual images 5cm away.

          The headache is near certainly going to be eyestrain from your eye muscles protesting the abuse. If so, I doubt there is any real way of preventing this sort of problem; it's likely to be a fundemental problem with the technology.

          1. Little Mouse Silver badge

            Re: My company has one

            I'd not considered the focussing issue before.

            For run-of-the-mill 3D viewing, eg Imax, 3D-TV, Cardboard-style VR headsets, etc, your eyes are focussed on a physical screen (which in the case of headsets is effectively feet, not cm, away due to the use of lenses). Images may appear to be closer or further away than the screen, but your eyes remain focused at just the one distance. Confusing for the brain and unpleasant on the stomach (in my case anyway).

            How does that even work with AR?

            You could be looking at a physical object 10 metres away, and an identical virtual object right next to it. But if the focussing plane of the headset is only 3m away, what do you actually see? Can you only have one of the objects in focus even though they are the "same" distance away?

            I'm feeling ill just thinking about it.

          2. midcapwarrior

            Re: My company has one

            I have contact's with different prescriptions for each eye. One is near the other is far.

            Weird at first but just as the Optometrist said my brain learned to process the different information with one eye dominant.

            When done well it works the same way.

            The key is the training to narrow your field of focus.

            Basically you need to learn not to look directly ahead and not out of the corner of your eyes, even more so than you would with glasses.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: My company has one

            There is one solution on the focus problem, but it involves light field projection and is a LOT more money and hardware. Basically a light field camera in reverse, and NVidia are working on one such headset currently AFAIK.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              Re: My company has one

              One possible solution would be to have the user stare at a closed in screen, have a camera take a video, add the AR stuff in real time and "play" it to the screen.

  6. Dwarf Silver badge

    Marketing and alternative uses ?

    Might be useful for marketing types, HUD for their presentations notes and the main screen for everyone else.

    I don't expect it to be long until someone decides to use them for their personal porn display in the office either !!.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Marketing and alternative uses ?

      Had a chat with one of our security bods a while back, and they were interested in these for things like virtual monitors on secure accounts.

      Currently the people working on these accounts have to be locked away in a secure room, away from everyone else in the building, where only the 'authorised' people have access. But that limits you on things like number of desks available, and means they can't use hot desks in other offices etc.

      The thought that you could just sit down anywhere, and plug an AR headset into a Laptop, where only you can see the virtual monitor contents, was very appealing to them.

      Plus being virtual, there are no real size limitations, you could have a huge monitor, or several of them.

      There are several VR tools available now, that enable this usage in systems like the HTC Vive, but that's quite cumbersome compared to something like an AR headset.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Marketing and alternative uses ?

        Pretty sure physical security measures like this aren't for "screen peeping" which can be solved by giving someone an office with a desk facing the door. The important bit is the prevention of physical access to the (airgapped) system. Using a hololens doesn't provide the physical barrier, so I don't see this taking off.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Marketing and alternative uses ?

      Can they use it with satnav too? Anything to get the marketing "types" away from us!

    3. DiViDeD

      Re: Marketing and alternative uses ?

      I had an idea for marketing types involving a HUD once.

      And a remote operated chaingun.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd love a decent HUD; but not one locked into an ecosystem run by a bunch of douches. My machinery works for my benefit, and if it can't do that then no sale. The price is secondary at this stage of development.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So buy one from someone else.

      It's not like there aren't other companies out there producing AR and VR headsets and even defining open standards such as OpenVR, OSVR etc.

  8. Fr. Ted Crilly Bronze badge

    all well and good but,

    When are you going to bring out the contact lens versions...

    Robert Gu really needs to know

  9. Alan Bourke

    Does it involve actual holography yet?

    or is it still marketing wankspeak for the easily led?

    1. WP7Mango

      Re: Does it involve actual holography yet?

      Yes, it is actual holography. The optics are wave-guides with diffraction gratings.

      1. WP7Mango

        Re: Does it involve actual holography yet?

        I'm curious why some sad twat downvoted me for merely stating the facts! LMFAO

  10. frank ly

    Don't build my hopes up

    "... even when the upgrades to your reality are in complex environments ..."

    It took me a while to realise that he meant " -- overlays/additions/updates to your reality --". For a few seconds, I was excited by the possibility of an upgrade to my reality.

  11. Jim84

    Pseudo holograms or stereoscopic "3D"

    Does it actually produce pseudo holograms, in that the display is a light field display? Or is it steroscopic 3D in that a slightly different image are displayed to the left and right eye, leading to the "2D pop up book" effect?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pseudo holograms or stereoscopic "3D"

      Stereoscopic 3D seems to work fine n the real world, as that's the only way was can view it with two eyes anyway!

      If your getting a "2D pop up book" effect in something your using, I suggest you find a better source of material, or a better viewer.

    2. WP7Mango

      Re: Pseudo holograms or stereoscopic "3D"

      It produces real holograms. The optics are waveguides with diffraction gratings.

  12. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The GUI (or should it be HUI?)

    That sounds interesting. In every European language (except Hungarian) from Berlin longitude eastwards. Very interesting indeed.

    Probably quite appropriate too - due to Zuck's fetish about nudity and the corresponding post-acquisition withdrawal of Oculus from the future HUI interaction market this gadget has the high quality HUI stuff totally to itself.

    Though, IMHO, it is probably just HUI-evina. Like any virtual reality system that creates a conflict between what you see and what your inner ear thinks you should be experiencing.

  13. Uplink

    The ultimate portable, wearable computer

    Imagine a person travelling by train. They're sitting at one of those shared tables. They wear a Hololens. You're watching the creepiest thing ever: They seem to be typing on the table... but there's no keyboard... and they's moving a mouse that isn't there.

    This is what's happening: A full computer in their headset. Holographic monitor, keyboard, mouse.

    No need to unpack anything, no worries that some fellow passenger will spill your drink on your laptop when the train rocks to the side too hard. You can add and remove monitors as needed, or even extra virtual computers (running different operating systems too).

    Imagine: Coding on your multi-monitor setup, on the train, without having to carry or spread out a full lab worth of equipment.

    Add this little printer: and a stack of A4 sheets of paper and the world is your office.

    The only things that I can't figure out how to do are: 1. how to receive mail; 2. get a bank account; 3. car registration, insurance and tax (should you prefer an RV to the train), in a nomad-friendly way.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Battery life - 2 hours?

    That battery life sounds like a show stopper for now in business use. Assuming the batteries are not removable?

    So you'd need at least 2x as many hololenses as you have employees currently needing use of them. Get it up to 4 hours use, 3 hours to charge and make the batteries removable then you could have a mass market business device.

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