Microsoft’s ‘mixed reality’ sounds like a confusing plan B

Terry Myerson at Computex 2016:

Today, we announced that Windows Holographic is coming to devices of all shapes and sizes from fully immersive virtual reality to fully untethered holographic computing. Today we invited our OEM, ODM, and hardware partners to build PCs, displays, accessories and mixed reality devices with the Windows Holographic platform.

It’s good to hear that Microsoft opens up its platform and allows others to develop its own devices, but this feels weird. Why would anybody want to invest time and resources in something that hasn’t proved anything?

The same happens with that new ‘mixed reality’ concept that Microsoft has been talking about. Combining VR platforms with AR platforms could be interesting, sure, but Microsoft seems to be the weak one in this battle. HTC and Oculus have the winning hand (or at least a better hand) because they’ve already showed that this platforms can do something that interests certain kind of users.

All Microsoft has given us at this point is nice promo videos.

Are we ready for virtual showrooming? HoloLens fails to give a good answer

Here we’ve got another nice example of a promising technology that has to overcome several big obstacles. The user experience is far from perfect, and on this specific scenario -showrooming- it fails when what you actually want is touching something physical.

But as with many HoloLens demos, objects are coherent only at a very specific distance and angle. The very thing you want to do with the showroom model — walk up close and get a sense of its scale — chops it into pieces or makes it disappear altogether. The headset’s lenses are easy to adjust, they’re just incredibly unforgiving. I couldn’t quite find a fit that didn’t have me craning my neck to see a whole object, even if it was a Volvo logo the size of a dinner plate. Maintaining the showroom’s illusion requires unflagging concentration.

I’m affraid we still are too attached to actually feeling something in our hands or on our bodies to get a glimpse of the real sense of the product. Hololens seems nice as an expensive toy, but nothing else at the moment.

I really don’t see this escaping from the gaming and certain design scenarios.

Source: Microsoft and Volvo’s new HoloLens showroom is fascinating and frustrating | The Verge

HoloLens reminds us not only of Kinect, but of another big failure

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Dina Bass writes on Bloomberg about the slow demise of Microsoft Kinect and how this device was not well supported by the company, that should have bet on it from the beginning not only on the gaming side (Xbox 360, Xbox One), but also on the ‘serious’ software side (Windows).

While the technology captured people’s imaginations and provided some entertaining gimmicks, the Kinect failed to become the all-purpose computing device many inside and outside Microsoft envisioned. The company’s ambitions for the product started out too small, and by the time it was ready to go further, the different parts of Microsoft were unable to come together and create something with lasting appeal.

This is a valid point, but the problem is far simpler. Kinect didn’t succeed because Microsoft did too many broken promises. Kinect games were garbage too simple and too casual: Nintendo had been making those kind of games for too long, and the feature was not a differentiator. It should have been.

In fact, trying to compare HoloLens future with Kinect present is misleading. These are two different kind of devices, and I’d say that HoloLens is much more similar to Google Glass in every way.

The lessons Microsoft must learn should come from that project, not Kinect. We’ll see if Microsoft delivers this time, but pitching a $3,000 consumer device is pretty difficult.

Source: Kinect’s Rapid Decline Shows Microsoft How Not to Pitch HoloLens – Bloomberg Business