Like it or not, augmented reality headsets are right around the corner

rise of the hmds hololens autodesk fusion 360 hero
The best part about VR and AR headsets is that you can make fun of your friends while they wear them. But soon, that will be a thing of the past. Head-mounted devices (HMDs) are the form factor of the future, and soon enough you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

The rise of HMDs won’t just bring with it better screens, improved wireless transmission, and advanced graphics. It will also bring about a culture shift, where computers aren’t just boxes under desks, or even the sleek 2-in-1s on the bleeding edge now.

Glassholes paved the way

While Google’s experimental adventure into eye-mounted displays had problems of its own, it also forced people to ask important questions about wearable tech. Where is appropriate to wear it? When does it need to come off? Should it be equipped with cameras? Can we make porn with it?google glass ban

While most of these questions haven’t been answered firmly, the point is that people are asking them. It’s a wild, radical time in the computing, akin to the jump from the physical punch cards used by the first computers, to the electronic and magnetic memory used today.

Hate them or love them, glassholes were the ones who first brought HMDs into malls, bars, movie theaters, and town squares, ringing the bells of new technology. Best of all, they did it early, before anyone thought it was okay, and paved the way for devices like the Google Cardboard and Samsung GearVR.

Share the love

Nothing defines the 2015 mindset on HMDs like the GearVR. It’s not an augmented reality set, but it has all the trappings of one. That includes a camera with a pass-through mode, a feature I firmly believe is just around the corner from general use in a large number of apps.


It’s also solves one of the major problems with VR and AR – that the experience lacks value until you actually try it. More than once I’ve handed a Gear over to a VR newbie, only to have to pry it away from them later. Seeing it for yourself makes the experience real, and that person doesn’t make fun of other people in the headset. They want to share in it instead.

These projects aren’t a gimmick anymore, and it’s starting to show.

Microsoft’s burden

Microsoft is making a solid decision pricing the HoloLens out of reach of consumers. It’s not a device with software support or existing applications outside of a few tech demos. It needs to be fleshed out by developers and vetted thoroughly before it can operate consistently in an office or home.

First wave development kits usually happen out of the public eye, but with the massive hype building around the device, there was no way for Microsoft to keep it under wraps. And maybe that’s for the best. Microsoft has a long history of abandoning projects halfway through, and pressure from the community will keep it honest. It’s also a reminder that this project isn’t just a pipedream, but is in the hands of developers, who are actively working to bring their software to the platform.

It may be the most advanced example of augmented reality out in the real world at the moment, but the technology for the next wave is already in development, and may be on your next tablet.

Good Intel-tions

When Intel starts working on a project in earnest, that’s when it’s time to start really paying attention. The massive chip maker swings it weight around and takes the computing world with it. We saw it with the rapid proliferation of Compute Stick clones, and we’re seeing it now with the RealSense cameras that are enabling advanced biometric login. And that’s not all those cameras are being used for.

In fact, what was first regarded as glorified webcam technology has become a crucial piece of the augmented reality puzzle. The world around us is unpredictable at best, and RealSense cameras are able to understand depth and distance, allowing computers to make sense of the way we move and interact with objects.

Lenovo ideapad Miix 700 RealSense

It’s also important to remember that Intel doesn’t just set the example, it builds the chips that power it. Mobile devices may make use of Qualcomm or even Rockchip options, but Intel will lead the charge for the next few years, as it’s always done.


It isn’t just behemoths like Intel and Microsoft working on this technology, however. A small team just announced the Meta 2 developer kit for a Q3 2016 ship date, and the device is nothing short of impressive on paper. It boasts a massive 90 degree field of view, just short of modern VR headsets, with high-quality 1440p projections.


But the Meta’s importance doesn’t come from the impressive hardware, it comes from the fact that the team was able to produce it at all. The headset is concrete proof that AR isn’t just a pursuit of the biggest companies in the world, a sure sign the technology is on its way to the mainstream.

Strap in

There’s a lot to look forward to in a world drive by HMDs. Individual system customization, infinite displays, completely immersive gaming and media — but it’s not all sunshine and roses.

The idea of a screen two inches in front of everyone’s’ eyes at all times isn’t just distracting, it flies in the face of the very reason we gather to work in offices in the first place. It’s only a matter of time before that reaches our personal lives too. If you think a first date that spends all their time iPhone is annoying, what about one with a HoloLens strapped to their face?

I’m getting distracted. The point is, this technology is right around the corner, like it or not. In a few years time, an HMD on a friend’s face will be as half as common as the iPhone, twice as annoying, and ten times as efficient.


5G is the swift kick VR and AR gaming needs to come to fruition

There's a lot of hype surrounding augmented reality and virtual reality, but is it really the next big thing? We take a look at where the new mediums stand, as well as how 5G is poised to help them break into the mainstream.
Smart Home

After camera hacks, Nest locks customers out until they change their password

Nest is locking people out of their accounts if it believes there may have been a breach. Users will have to set up a new, secure password before they are able to regain access to their account.

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

The 10 most expensive drones that you (a civilian) can buy

OK, these drones may be a bit beyond your budget: Check out the most expensive drones in the world, from industrial giants to highest-end filming tools.

The best VR headsets at CES 2019 could bring the technology to the mainstream

While there weren't a ton of new VR headset on display at CES 2019, the ones we saw led us to believe that VR could have a real moment soon, both from a gaming and business standpoint.

These are the coolest virtual and augmented reality gadgets from CES 2019

CES 2019 had plenty of VR and AR gadgets on display, including headsets that completely change how you experience virtual reality, and some that don't even require a PC or a phone to run.

These shoes let me stroll through ‘Skyrim,’ and I desperately want to go back

After being funded in just two hours on Kickstarter back in October 2018, Cybershoes has earned itself a place among the coolest VR walking and running tech. At CES 2019, we got to try them out and they live up to the hype.

The Teslasuit could turn Black Mirror’s terrifying ‘Playtest’ into a reality

We spoke with Teslasuit co-founder Dimitri Mikhalchuk about VR gaming at CES 2019. With all its features, the future of the Teslasuit and virtual reality look bright. And it also sounds a bit like a Black Mirror episode.

Could the next Microsoft HoloLens be announced at MWC 2019?

After not having a presence at Mobile World Congress for three years, Microsoft is now sending out media invites for a press conference on February 24 during the annual event in Barcelona. Could a next-generation HoloLens be on the way?

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Virtual Reality

Is the Vive Pro better than the original Vive? Our answer might surprise you

HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro, which comes out on top? That's the subject of our latest comparison, which looks at everything from tracking solutions, to controllers, and the brand new headset that could set a new standard for VR.

Samsung files a VR patent featuring a curved OLED display

Doubling down on its emphasis on curved displays, Samsung recently filed a design patent for a new virtual reality headset that could feature a curved OLED display, which would be an interesting development in VR.