Belfast Telegraph

Hololens has potential ... but for now it's strictly for business

By Adrian Weckler

While mass market virtual reality systems so far have largely been about consumer applications such as gaming, augmented (or 'mixed') reality systems are being pitched more as industry-specific technology.

A case in point is Microsoft's Hololens. Having just launched in Ireland, I got the chance to try the latest iteration of the headset.

The difference between 'virtual' and 'augmented' reality is that, while VR encloses you completely within its artificial world, in AR you can still see your actual environment with virtual artefacts overlaid onto it.

So I can conjure up a digital object and see it placed on the floor in front of me, on a table, or floating.

To a limited extent, I can also control that object using finger gestures in front of my headset.

It's a very crude version of what might, in time, resemble the kind of interface seen in Hollywood movies.

For consumer applications, the Hololens remains seriously limited because of its highly restricted field of view. This consists of a modest rectangular field of vision, around which there are no digital artefacts to be seen.

This means you sometimes can't see an entire object if it's very wide or tall: you have to move your head up, down, left or right to see the edge of something.

That said, once a virtual object is in front of you, you can get closer to it, look under it, over it and behind it. This means it can still be very useful for industrial or education purposes, such as engineering modelling, manufacturing or the study of anatomy.

Some of the current apps are along these lines and a number of car companies are trialling the technology for their designers. One firm, Action Point, is also using the technology to pitch Hololens applications to companies and educational establishments in Ireland that might benefit from it.

Hololens has potential far beyond today's system projections. But for now, this is strictly for business.

The Microsoft Hololens costs around £2,700

Belfast Telegraph