|A component of Microsoft Windows|
Simulated image of Windows Mixed Reality on Microsoft HoloLens
|Type||Mixed reality graphics platform|
|Included with||Windows 10|
Windows Mixed Reality (formerly Windows Holographic) is a mixed reality platform developed by Microsoft, built on the Windows 10 API. It was announced at the "Windows 10: The Next Chapter" press event on January 21, 2015 and was released on March 30, 2016 simultaneously with the launch of the Development Edition of the Microsoft HoloLens. It is expected to be widely available for PC's in 2017 and for the Xbox One Family including Project Scorpio in 2018.
The platform works by enabling applications in which the live presentation of physical real-world elements is incorporated with that of virtual elements (referred to as "holograms" by Microsoft[a]) such that they are perceived to exist together in a shared environment. A variant of Windows for augmented reality computers (which augment a real-world physical environment with virtual elements) Windows Mixed Reality features an augmented-reality operating environment in which any Universal app can run. In addition, with Windows Mixed Reality Platform APIs, which are part of the Universal Windows Platform, and supported as standard in Windows 10 (including versions for mobile devices and Xbox One), mixed reality features can be readily implemented in any Universal Windows App, for a wide range of Windows 10-based devices.[b]
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The premier device for Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft HoloLens is a smart-glasses headset that is a cordless, self-contained Windows 10 computer. It uses various sensors, a high-definition stereoscopic 3D optical head-mounted display, and spatial sound to allow for augmented reality applications, with a natural user interface that the user interacts with through gaze, voice, and hand gestures. Codenamed "Project Baraboo," HoloLens had been in development for five years before its announcement in 2015, but was conceived earlier as the original pitch made in late 2007 for what would become the Kinect technology platform. It was introduced with operating systems, such as Android, iOS and macOS on April 5, 2016.
Microsoft has targeted HoloLens for release "in the Windows 10 timeframe," with the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition to begin shipping March 30, 2016, available by application to developers in the United States and Canada for a list price of US$3000. Although the Development Edition is considered to be consumer-ready hardware, as of February 2016 Microsoft has not set a time frame for consumer availability of HoloLens, with HoloLens chief inventor Alex Kipman stating that HoloLens will have a consumer release only when the market is ready for it. Companies such as Samsung Electronics and Asus had expressed interest in working with Microsoft to produce their own mixed-reality products based on HoloLens.
HoloLens is the first—and so far—only holographic computer out there. [...] I hope that in the not-so-distant future there will be many such devices. [...] This is running Windows 10. All of the APIs for human and environment understanding are part of Windows, and this version of Windows that we put on this device—we call it Windows Holographic.
The Microsoft HoloLens is not what I think of when I hear the word “hologram.” What Microsoft calls holograms, most of us have been calling augmented reality for years—overlaying digital images over our view of the real world.
While these things are quite different from a technical point of view, from a user’s point of view, they have a large number of things in common. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a short, handy term that covers them all, has a well-matching connotation in the minds of the “person on the street,” and distinguishes these things from other things that might be similar technically, but have a very different user experience?
The easiest way to think about it [gaze-based targeting for HoloLens] is as having a raycast from the device and which you can determine what object (real world as represented in the spatial mapping mesh or holographic) that ray intercepts with.
The pair of Microsoft reps in the IPD room also explained to us the three ways we were going to interact with HoloLens: "gaze," wherein you move a cursor by looking around; "gesture," where you air tap to select an item; and "voice," which is...obvious. "We call it 'GGV'," said one of the reps.
Each lens has three layers of glass—in blue, green, and red—full of microthin corrugated grooves that diffract light. [...] A “light engine” above the lenses projects light into the glasses, where it hits the grating and then volleys between the layers of glass millions of times.
We will work to get devices out as quickly as possible. As soon as additional devices are available, more accepted applicants will be invited to purchase.