Tag: Microsoft

Microsoft Hololens and Occulus Rift get shown off at E3

MSHoloLens_Image_1_CMYK

The Hololens was out on full show at E3 for an incredible tech demo. The team showed off playing Minecraft using the Hololens to give you a huge screen to play on. Then the real twist occurred when they showed how it could be used to play Minecraft as a hologram right in front of you whilst another player is running around inside the world and you can look on God like.

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Why everyone needs to be excited about Microsoft Hololens

MSHoloLens_Image_1_CMYK

Microsoft recently announced an entirely new class of wearable – the Hololens. It’s even a cool name. Wearing them the user will be able to hear, see and interact with holographic images overlayed right before their eyes. So why is there not that much excitement about this?

I’m just going to say that again because it needs to be brought front and centre.

Real life holograms. 

Look, I couldn’t even resist using bold it’s so important. This is the beginning of the future many of us read and dreamt about as children. Interacting with virtual objects and people seen in the real world right in front of us.

I have been hearing about the Microsoft Hololens since it was announced. What’s shocking to me after reading and watching videos is how little interest the tech press is giving it. Perhaps they are disillusioned with Microsoft and jaded by past failures. Watching the Microsoft presentation you’d think they had just announced yet another Windows phone or the Zune 2. Giving the press the benefit of the doubt perhaps they were just stunned and had heads down trying to get as much info blogged / recorded as quick as possible. If this had been presented at an Apple Keynote though the crowd would have gone hysterical. It would have been hailed as revolutionary and been relentlessly talked about for months.

This makes Google Glass look like pure crap frankly. Sure it was a nice first step but it was half-baked in hindsight. Getting directions, taking video and photos and getting notifications? Cool, sure. Imagine this scenario though. Using Cortana you voice search for where you want to be as your walking along and the Hololens drop arrows in front of you on the pavement to guide you, whilst you video chat to your friend who is showing you the menu of the restaurant that you’re meeting them at so they can order some starters for you? ( Deep breath ) That is awesome. Not in the totally overused way in which the word is currently thrown around. “Isn’t tomato sauce AWESOME!”. No, in the dictionary definition of awesome.

adjective

1.causing or inducing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear:
2.exhibiting or marked by awe;showing reverence, admiration or fear.
Honestly I bet the reaction of most people is going to be awe and a tinge of fear as it sounds like magic just hearing about it let alone seeing it.
What can you do with it then? Lets drop an image here of the sort of thing we might use Hololens for as envisaged by Microsoft.
MSHoloLens_MixedWorld_LivingRoom_LongBrowser_CMYKOn his left the guy is browsing through some photos. No doubt in the future we’ll be able to pick up and hold these digital images in our hands if we like or blow them up to a huge size so we could almost be standing in the landscape the photographer has taken. On the right he has a menu. One option is Netflix. Holographic Netflix. Why would you need a cumbersome big TV in the room when eventually the resolution and power of this might be enough to give you an enormous virtual TV that is there wherever you choose to look. Netflix might in time create a range of shows with the actors performing as if they were standing in your living room. Of course it wouldn’t work for big action movies but for arty, dialogue heavy shows and movies I could see this working.
So one thing is for sure the possibilities with this device are huge and if you just sit for a few minutes I bet you can come up with some ideas that you would love to see implemented. Here is a few I quickly thought of:
Holo-shopping – See the object you want at its real size and be able to look around it from every angle. No need for losing hours wandering around IKEA anymore.
Music performances – You could sit in your armchair and watch an artist sit and play their instruments sat on a virtual stool in your living room. Incredibly intimate.
Interior design – Bored of your room? Imagine having a virtual paintbrush and watch as the walls in your room change colours. Add some blinds to the windows. New curtains. All before you set foot in a shop ( although you might not need those – see Holo-shopping ).
3D Sculptures and art works both still and moving.
Those are just a few things I quickly thought and I know there are creative people that will dream bigger and in new directions that my thinking hasn’t yet taken me.
Maybe this will all come in time. So how is it right now? Well the Verge got to try out the current model and they do a good job of giving you of how it is right now. The limited press hands on ( by Microsoft chosing of course ) have been positive and using terms like ‘magical’ and ‘brave and impressive. Rightly they all point out that instead of disconnecting you from your world as VR does the Hololens adds to it and allows you to continue to see around you and interact with people.
Like everything the first gen looks a bit clunky but over time this is going to rock. I think everyone needs to be excited by Hololens.

Wearables Round Up

Its been a while I know. There has been a lot of other stuff getting between my fingertips and the keys. At times it’s felt like the keyboard has had a force field around it repelling me. Another reason was I had a little something different in mind for a one off but it seems that’s going to have to wait and I’m just going to have to get on and catch up a bit.

For the last month or so the wearables scene has gone a bit crazy. So much so I thought the best thing to do was a brief overview of whats new to keep us up to speed. Overall there is no one outstanding product to me or I think I would have been more compelled to write a post sooner.

Get a cuppa and a biscuit. Screw that, make it a slab of cake. Here we go…

Microsoft Band 

Microsoft-Band_Hero_2Cost $199 US £169 on Amazon

According to the promo video its perfect whether your cuddling your baby or skydiving. Wait..what?

Microsofts plans are ambitious and that’s great. It’s about time they stopped being an ‘also ran’ company. Really their new health platform Microsoft Health is the big deal here. Its cross platform so it won’t matter who has the newest best phone your data will be syncing with them and giving you feedback. This is great in terms of futureproofing. The band itself gives heart rate data, Reminders, text messages and voice commands with Windows 8.1 phone. Sadly it doesn’t have GPS ( booo! ).

It sounds like Microsoft is hoping to gather a ton of data from people about their health and use this to give back much more meaningful health prompts and motivators. Its interesting and honestly not a bad looking thing. Its an unashamed band not trying to replace your watch and personally having long given up on watches a long time ago is more in keeping with what I think more people now want to wear. Posh watch for going out , slim light fitness band in the day.

LG G Watch R

LG_G_WATCH_R1Cost US $299.99 around £200 via Amazon UK

Well there you go, you can get a perfectly round watch face now with no ‘flat tire’ like the Moto 360. You are however, still using Android Wear so that depends on whether you think you like what you’ve seen so far. Looks are umm, chunky. Personally I think I would rather have the slimmer look of the 360 that the bezel around the G Watch R. Better chip in it than 360 too so improved battery life. It also has a P-OLED display to increase viewing angles and a heart rate monitor unlike the G Watch.

Sony Smartwatch 3

05_SmartWatch_3_LimeCost $250 US RRP £180.99 Smartwatch 3 on Amazon UK

A watch with GPS! Its happened people, we can relax now.

Clearly more of a sports watch from its looks. I don’t think you can wear this to look smart. Looks like it would take a kicking outdoors and keep working. Charging is a mixed blessing. Removing the need for specific wireless chargers it uses micro USB but the flip side is this can be fiddly get it whilst keeping the rubber socket plug out of the way.

Also rather cool is that there are hidden treasures inside this watch. It can connect via WiFi and also has NFC capability although there is as yet nothing you can use this with ( let me know if you’ve heard of something ). Hopefully this will mean in future it can upload your run results automatically on sensing your home WiFi and the NFC might let you pay for things when you’re in town.

Fitbit Surge

Fitbit range

Coming Early 2015

Cost $249.95 UK £199.99

Fitbit are venturing into the Smartwatch zone a little with this new offering. You’ll be getting text and call notifications as well being able to control your music on your smartphone from it. Aimed at athletic folks as well as steps counter this offering now has a heart rate sensor and built in GPS.

The screen is LCD much like the Pebble and hence offers a better battery life at a quoted 7 days but it will no doubt be a lot less with heavy GPS use. How much so remains to be seen once it gets in the hands of testers.Whilst it is waterproof to 5ATM its not ready for the pool so you won’t be able to track your swimming. You can swim with the Pebble but you won’t be getting heart rate tracking or GPS built in.

If the price is too much and then there is the Fitbit Charge HR. Again not yet released until 2015 and will set you back £119.99 or $149.95 HR is for heart rate tracking but it lacks the GPS of the Surge. There is also the Fitbit Charge which is now but I find it hard to recommend this to anyone really. Its only $20 cheaper and lacks heart rate tracking. If your in the market for a fitness tracker now I wouldn’t give a second glance at something without a heart rate monitor unless you are only interested in step counts and just beginning to make yourself fitter. If so there are much cheaper options in the Fitbit range as well as other manufacturers.

This link gives a helpful comparison between the various models.

I think that will do it for this post. I’m sure there are others out there as there are so many coming out all the time but these are the big ones I wanted to cover in this post.

As usual please feel free to leave comments, share the hell out of this and stay in touch on Twitter @RichHarkness. Catch you soon!

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