Microsoft swung open the doors Thursday morning on the new HoloLens Experience Showcase for Developers at the company’s flagship store in New York, finally letting ordinary people get a taste of the company’s years-in-the-making augmented reality device, the HoloLens. The device itself was unveiled last January at a Windows 10 event at company headquarters in Washington, and it wowed most people who were given the opportunity to try it out — my jaw was on the ground following that experience.
Don’t believe me? Or our Computing editor, Matt Smith, who tried it in May? (Spoiler: He used the word “magic.”) Now you can see it for yourself.
The newly opened fourth floor of the company’s space on Fifth Ave (just paces from Apple’s flagship store) revealed many of the same demos journalists have been granted access to. Digital Trends was given an early walkthrough of the space, which contains conference rooms, breakout demos, and the headgear. Very, very cool headgear.
The HoloLens is essentially a giant pair of sunglasses married to a plastic headband, which you tighten around your skull like a mental patient in a ward. It feels like it ought to hurt. Somehow, it does not. Screens projected on the lenses flash data that merges wonderfully with the real world. At the new facility, I played a video game called Project X-Ray, in which robot bugs burst from the walls. When I missed the bugs I shot holes in the room instead — the room looked like swiss cheese by the time I was done.
Developers will be able to blast the same bugs, experience the HoloLens developer environment called Holo Studio, and try out something Microsoft calls “holographic storytelling,” which seems like a dynamic way to sell a product. Picture holographic ads you can interact with, exploded parts diagrams you can walk around to examine, and so on.
To gain access, you’ll have to register at the Microsoft website set up for the recently completed nationwide HoloLens tour. The site is clearly intended to connect the Windows giant with developers, and the entire store is clearly meant to get them started thinking about the types of experiences they can create with HoloLens. If you’re curious, and in the neighborhood, I’d be surprised if they didn’t let you pop in and check things out.
Want one of your own? Microsoft announced the HoloLens Development Edition on October 6 and is now taking applications for devices, which will start shipping in Q1 of 2016. At $3,000, it’s not cheap. But it’s awesome — and awesome is never cheap.
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