While Microsoft’s mixed reality-based HoloLens headsets are already available to developers at a steep price of $2999 since March last year, we are yet to see a consumer-ready version of the headset. At the ongoing CES 2017, Microsoft has announced that there will be HoloLens-based headsets by third-party manufacturers for consumers in the near future. The company said that it is teaming up with the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo and Acer, which will release headsets based on the HoloLens technology.
“These new head-mounted displays will be the first consumer offerings utilizing the Mixed Reality capabilities of Windows 10 Creators Update,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. Microsoft’s partner companies for taking the HoloLens technology forward include Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, and 3 Glasses. Headsets by these manufacturers will work the same way as the original HoloLens but carry the design and branding of their respective companies. While the HoloLens developer edition costs a whopping $2999 (approximately Rs 2,00,000), the third-party headsets will be priced starting $299 (approximately Rs 20,000).
The announcement comes months after Microsoft opened up its HoloLens platform to masses and third party manufacturers. Back in October, the company had confirmed the first wave of Windows-based VR headsets will launch this year. The company had already demoed Microsoft-compatible VR devices from Acer, Lenovo, Dell, HP and Asus.
What will differentiate these headsets from the Microsoft HoloLens is that these will need to be tethered to a PC to work. The original headset works independently of a PC or phone. It includes sensors and motion trackers which enable holographic computing, allowing a wearer to interact freely with the 3D environment. ALSO READ: Microsoft’s HoloLens to dominate wearable market, not Google Glass: Juniper Research
HoloLens uses holographic technology that transforms real-world objects into 3D in the virtual vision. With a bit of augmented reality thrown in the mix, the headset overlays images and objects in real environment and allows the wearer to use hand gestures to interact with the 3D images. So for example, if there is a table in front of you, the headset could show you the table with 3D piano keys on its top and you could virtually play music on the same table.
In the past one year, we have seen companies giving a strong push to augmented and virtual reality-based products. While the Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive are already available for the masses, something like the Microsoft HoloLens is yet to see the true consumer response. Other than hardware, apps such as the immensely popular Pokemon Go have been able to gauge consumer interest in the new type of technology. Given how the Google Glass fizzled out owing to growing privacy concerns, it will be interesting to see how the HoloLens technology is able to entice consumers to fit on a headset and walk around, immersed in their own 3D world.