Holo Promises?

With the announcement of Microsoft’s latest foray into hardware production – the  futuristic ‘Hololens’- it’s starting to feel like the dreams of 80’s kids are being realised, and that a 2015 that resembles ‘Back to the Future’ is not such an outlandish proposition after all. But with Nike promising the iconic films power laces, ’Hendo’ floating the idea of  a hover board and Microsoft seemingly realising  the VR/AR concept in a single device, Inspiration Matters wonders whether the latest stunning announcement in the tech world is just a bit too much.

During the announcement of Windows 10 earlier this week Microsoft showcased a head mounted computer – one that falls somewhere between Google Glass and the Oculus rift. The device promises the ability to produce fully immersive holograms, easily viewed – and easily manipulated – from any angle.

We’ve seen a huge leap in just a few short years to delivering all those products that were promised to us by the action, adventure, and sci-fi movies we grew up watching that sometimes it simply seems inevitable that such devices will fall into our lap. But this particular announcement from Microsoft – which looks set to catapult them ahead of previous head mounted computing & display market leaders Google and Oculus – comes so out of left field, and is of such apparent capability, that we’re left wondering if this latest promise is a little more hollow than ‘holo’.

We only have to look to another of Microsoft’s seemingly  zany announcements for a bit of context to the whole thing however: The Kinect. Now, Microsoft may have chosen to drop the device from its X-Box one package, marking the death of the device as a mass-market consumer product, but it’s not the death of this product that’s of interest, but its birth.

Back in 2009 when the device was announced, this too had a gleaming show reel demoing all of what that next gen device would be capable, and how it would provide a complete step change in the way that consumers were able to interact with both videogames, their televisions, and assorted X-Box services.

The features demoed never quite materialised, but by all accounts this was down to consumer and developer apathy rather than any fault on the hardware side handled by Microsoft.

So, even working from the assumption that this device won’t even match half of the capabilities shown in its launch video, it still represents an impressive step forward in the realms of both head mounted displays, and AR in general. And when taken in the context of equally ‘futuristic’ announcements from brands such as Sony and Oculus, it seems likely that these types of device are coming, and from more than enough sources to – initially at least – keep developer and consumer interest high.

As a signpost then, announcements like these are useful. And it seems that the trend towards wearables and head mounted computing in general is not the short-lived fad some would suggest (something especially important to note given the negative consumer reaction to the fledgling Google glass).

It looks like the iron is burning pretty hot then, and so this coming year may turn out to be a great opportunity for your brand to strike with a unique activation that takes advantage of this trend, and devices like these.

If last year saw the early versions of the Oculus Rift technology allow Easy Jet to introduce the ability to ‘Try Before You Fly’, and the Marriott hotel to provide a glimpse of exotic climes; come June of this year the ‘Hololens’ from Microsoft is likely to provide plenty of great opportunities for your brand – regardless of whether some of its early promises turn out to be more hollow than ‘holo’.