May 31, 2016. Just a normal Tuesday at work. As we’re discussing priorities and requirements for upcoming initiatives in our weekly emerging technologies regroup, our SVP of Technology and Project Management, Melissa walks in, beaming ear to ear.
The Big Reveal
“Sorry I’m late, but I’ve got something I think you’ll want to see!” She exclaims excitedly.
I glance at the box in her hand…Looks like just about the perfect size to fit a Hololens and some packaging
, I think to myself.
She drops the box on the table and we cut the packaging tape…revealing a smaller black box. The wireframe of a Hololens is etched in blue and a small Microsoft logo adorns the upper left corner. Alicia Millane, our Lead Videographer, and frequent blog contributer (see How to Make the Best VR Video
) jumps up and runs out of the room.
“Going to grab the camera…be right back!” she yells.
When she returns, I’m gripping the box anxiously waiting for the green light to open it. She raises the camera and positions it over the box… "Ok, go for it. Let’s see what $3,000 looks like."
I slowly peel the seals off the box and remove the top, revealing for the first time the device that is sure to deprive me of any reasonable amount of sleep for the next 6 months.
As we remove the device from its hard-shell carrying case it’s immediately apparent that not much has changed since the demo unit we tried in NYC back in November
. This is not a bad thing. On first impression, the device is well built and feels sturdy. A small knob on the back of the headset allows for sizing adjustments, which is important for the office tour it’s about to embark on.
The lens components are entirely encased in a transparent plastic visor, which makes cleaning the device fairly straightforward…it’s nearly impossible to actually smudge the lenses.
As I rotate the headset to the front I notice a couple cameras (one depth sensing and one photographic)which are designed to help Hololens understand its physical environment and also facilitate applications like Skype, where remote participants can see things from your point of view. There are several other harder to identify components that live in the front of the unit including the “Inertial Measurement Unit” which contains a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer. Additionally Microsoft has included 4 undisclosed “environment understanding” sensors, an ambient light sensor, and several microphones.
On either side of the headset just above where your ears would be there is a small red component…a 3D speaker which can play binaural audio (simulating spatial audio like we hear in the real world).
Directly above the speakers on top of the headset, there are 2 small circular buttons. The buttons on the left side control brightness, and the right controls sound volume.
The power button is discretely located on the back of the left arm of the unit. Several small LEDs indicate charging and battery state. Directly below that on the bottom side of the arm is a micro-usb charging port.
All in all, the hardware looks pretty solid and similar to what we expected from demo-ing the device in November. Now I’m thinking about the real magic happens when I press the power button for the first time…
See Part 1
of this series and stay tuned for the next update on the future of mixed reality.