With many developers racing to release virtual reality headsets for gaming and other applications, Microsoft has taken a rather different route. Their Hololens headset touts itself as “mixed reality” experience, expanding on typical augmented reality systems by overlaying virtual holograms. Until now, Microsoft has kept quite silent on many of the basic details of the device that may matter to developers and consumers. Microsoft Technical Evangelist, Bruce Harris, broke this silence at a presentation in Tel Aviv, showing new details of the augmented reality device.
For starters, the Hololens will be able to connect with any Bluetooth of WiFi-capable devices, with no wired options available. Adding to this, it will also be able to run every universal Windows 10 app out of the box. It was also confirmed that multiple Hololens devices can be connected to one another to provide a shared user experience, even over the internet.
The killer question, as with all wireless devices is the battery life, and while it can vary based on usage it can be expected that the Hololens can be used for up to 5.5 hours on a full charge. However, pushing the device to its limits could reduce that time by over half. Hopefully, this won’t harm the Hololens’ usage in business applications, but it is unlikely that the average user would be wearing it for so long uninterrupted anyway. Another limitation to the device that was shown was that its field of view would be akin to a “15-inch screen 2 feet away”, with the reasons for this limitation being put down to cost and battery life. Microsoft aims to improve this in future versions of the Hololens as their manufacturing capabilities improve.
With the Hololens not due to ship to developers until later this year, it is still unclear how these features and limitations will affect the device in practice. These specifications are unlikely to be reflected in the eventual consumer versions of the Hololens, but home users should expect at least what has been revealed so far.