Showing posts with label Microsoft's Unbelievable New Holographic Goggles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Microsoft's Unbelievable New Holographic Goggles. Show all posts

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Why Surface Hub is more interesting than HoloLens

Microsoft's Unbelievable New Holographic Goggles and show more photo's Click Here!

By the time Microsoft ships their augmented reality headset, it will be an also-ran banality. Their re-invention of "desktop" computing is what really matters.

Microsoft had an unusually kick-ass event this week. They trotted out the next version of Windows, which is called Windows 10.

The OS looks like a winner. (No word on what happened to "Windows 9" -- my guess is that it wouldn't have gone over big in the German market. Windows? Nein!)

The company focused on compelling integrations between desktop and mobile versions of Windows, as well as integrations between Windows 10 and Xbox One

They trotted out a compelling new browser, code-named "Spartan."

But the clear hit was an augmented-reality system called HoloLens. (HoloLens looks like the virtual reality glasses depicted in Back to the Future II. The "future" in that movie was the year 2015!)

When you see the HoloLens video Microsoft produced, you can see why everyone was dazzled. Especially the press.

The Verge called HoloLens "intriguing." Ars Technica called it "magical." Gizmodo called it "incredible."

The experience was all these things. However, it's not all that interesting as a product. And the reason is that it's not a product. Not even close. Microsoft's HoloLens may be three, four or five years out. We don't know.

HoloLens is a research product. Microsoft has been developing stunning research projects like this for 20 years. I've seen Microsoft Research text-to-speech technology that was perfect, and could be spoken in anyone's voice. The demo did various celebrities. I've seen Microsoft Research projects that used cameras to create real-time animated avatars to replace video chats. I've seen Microsoft research that included a self-learning, artificial intelligence system that mapped dictionaries to understand the connections between words and concepts and thereby "understand" the world. And all this was 15 years ago.

In the past, they never showed off such amazing projects in public, nor did these projects move on to become products available to consumers.

What's different now is that CEO Satya Nadella has decided to boost Microsoft's excitement factor by showing one of their killer research projects at a major event. But there's no evidence -- zero! -- that Microsoft has figured out how to get their great research into shipping products.

By the time HoloLens does become a shipping product, such technology will be a commonplace banality. Dozens or perhaps hundreds of companies, universities and software developers are working on exactly this kind of augmented reality system, including a well-funded startup called Magic Leap, which is almost certainly far ahead of Microsoft.

If I had to, I'd bet that HoloLens will be the "Zune" of augmented reality systems -- nice, but far too little, too late.

Meanwhile, Microsoft demonstrated something else that was truly revolutionary.

Why Surface Hub was the real star of the show

The real star of the show this week was Microsoft Surface Hub, a 4K, big-screen Windows 10 computer for enterprises.

The Surface Hub comes in two sizes: a big-screen 55-in. computer and a very big-screen 84-in. device.

The Surface Hub can be controlled with multi-touch, voice, in-the-air gestures, pen and keyboard. It's got sensors galore, including two wide-angle 1080p cameras, microphone, motion sensors and touch sensors.

And the interfaces are advanced. The multi-touch technology, for example, can recognize 100 touch points at once and precisely. Five people can be touching it on one side while several people are drawing with the pen on the other.

To start using it, you simply walk up to it. The Surface Hub knows you're there. Just choose between three options: Call, WhiteBoard or Connect.

t's a Windows 10 machine, so it ships with Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus the OneNote whiteboard and Skype for Business. (At minimum, it's a full-fledged PC, video-conferencing system, phone, presentation system, TV and white board -- it's basically everything you might find in a meeting room besides a table and chairs, including the assistant (of course Surface Hub will be a great Cortana device).

The Microsoft Surface, the tablet, stole its name from the Surface project, which was a big-screen TV. Then an app group stole the "Surface" branding for a pen-configuration app called Surface Hub for the Surface tablet.

Now, the big-screen people at Microsoft have stolen the name back by calling the new computer system the Surface Hub.

Surface Hub comes from Microsoft's Perceptive Pixel group, which has been shipping giant touch screens for years to the military, media and others. Microsoft acquired Perceptive Pixel in 2012. Those "Magic Walls" used by CNN are Perceptive Pixel computers. The CEO and founder of that company was Jeff Han, a visionary pioneer in the field of large multi-touch computers. Today Han is general manager of Perceptive Pixel hardware.

And guess what? Han uses his big-screen touch computer at an angle, like a drafting table, not on a wall or vertically mounted on a stand.

That's the future of big-screen computing. It's not a "desktop computer." The computer replaces the desk entirely.

Microsoft is targeting Surface Hubs at enterprises because they will initially be too expensive for consumers. But give it a year or two, and the prices will drop and consumers will start buying them.

I believe they will replace TVs or, looking at it another way, TVs will get PC operating systems and multi-touch.

It's worth noting also that only touch-computing and other close usage patterns justify any screen resolution higher than 4K. At CES this year, we saw monitors reaching the 8K level, which is overkill for watching TV. From a couch-to-TV distance, it's almost impossible to detect the difference between 4K and 8K. However, if you're going to use the screen for close-up use (as you can use the Surface Hub), the super high-resolution screens pay off.

The giant-screen touch PC form factor is a revolutionary new computing platform that will become pervasive in the years ahead.

For now, Microsoft's Surface Hub is more about work than play. But it's got one quality that the HoloLens doesn't have: It's a product, and it's shipping this year.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our Exclusive Hands-On With Microsoft's Unbelievable New Holographic Goggles

Less than a week after Glass goes back under wraps, a holographic wearable is unveiled

Less than a week after Google said that it would stop selling prototypes of its Glass wearable, Microsoft announced today that it's coming out with its own computerized headset.

During Microsoft's much-anticipated Windows 10 event, the company said it is working on a what CEO Satya Nadella said will be the world's first holographic computing platform. Dubbed HoloLens, the wearable enables the user to view high-definition holograms with surround sound and understand voice commands and hand gestures.

"It was a special moment this morning when we were able to share that Windows 10 is the world's first holographic computing platform – complete with a set of APIs that enable developers to create holographic experiences in the real world," the company said in a blog post. "With Windows 10, holograms are Windows universal apps… making it possible to place three-dimensional holograms in the world around you to communicate, create and explore in a manner that is far more personal and human."

The device is scheduled to be released in the Windows 10 timeframe, according to Microsoft. The company posted this video of the device on its website.

"My initial response was that they may have nailed it," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, who tried out HoloLens yesterday. "Google should be worried as Microsoft's approach is spot-on and Glass is coming off as a miserable failure."

The device, which looks like a pair of goggles or wrap-around sunglasses, has a transparent screen, allowing users to see the hologram in front of them while also seeing the real world. Gestures and voice commands can be used to create, bring up and size the holograms.

Using HoloStudio, a developer tool, users should be able to 3D print the objects they've created in their holograms.

Microsoft said NASA will be using HoloLens to take images sent back to Earth from the Mars rovers and view them as 3D holograms, helping them better explore the Red Planet. The wearables are intended to enable scientists to feel as if they are walking on the Martian surface.

"If successful, HoloLens will ultimately expand the way people interact with machines, just as the mouse-based interface did in the 1990s, and touch interfaces did after the introduction of the iPhone in 2007," said Forrester analyst James McQuivey, in a statement. "HoloLens will expand the way brands interact with consumers forever more, working its way through industry after industry, much the way Web and mobile experiences did before it."

Of course, much of the exuberance is reminiscent of Google's Glass project, which created a prototype of computerized eyeglasses with a small display screen that sits in front of the user's right eye.

With Glass, which has been used by more than 10,000 early adopters, users were able to read their email and see maps. They also could take photos and videos that could be posted to Twitter or Facebook.

After initial positive attention, Google's device began to lose momentum, raised concerns over privacy and was banned from some businesses.

Google stopped selling its Glass prototypes this week and shut down its early adopter program.

Google said it's not canceling Glass, but is moving the project from the GoogleX research umbrella and placing it under the direction of its own team, much like the company's search and Android teams.