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Microsoft gets freaky with holographic computing

‘This is not VR,’ says Redmond as it introduces HoloLens headset plus API for Windows 10

HoloLens will form an integral part of the Windows 10 ecosystem.
HoloLens will form an integral part of the Windows 10 ecosystem.

Microsoft brought its mobile computing vision into sharp relief yesterday, as it introduced a prototype of the HoloLens headset, wearable hardware designed to overlay a user's computing ecosystem on their real-world environment.

GALLERY: Microsoft's HoloLens

HoloLens will form an integral part of the Windows 10 ecosystem, Redmond explained on a dedicated website, which showed concept images of living areas and work spaces strewn with projected images. A designer can see a virtual image of a motorcycle propped against their office wall, while at home, Minecraft landscapes stretch across a living-room floor.

Microsoft stressed that HoloLens is just a different kind of computer running Windows 10, albeit one that is able to process the real-world environment very quickly. The company also distinguished the HoloLens experience from virtual reality (VR), in which the user is immersed in an entirely virtual environment and has no visibility of the real world around them. With HoloLens, a see-through lens allows the user to move around without fear of tripping over objects they cannot see, while projecting 2- and 3-dimensional objects onto the environment.

GALLERY: Microsoft's HoloLens

"[HoloLens] is completely untethered - no wires, phones, or connection to a PC needed... while processing terabytes of data from the sensors in real-time," Microsoft explained on the website. "HoloLens allows you to pin holograms in your physical environment and provides a new way to see your world."

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Pinned holograms can be apps, information, and even multi-dimensional videos, Microsoft added, and would be designed for interactions just as physical objects are.

GALLERY: Microsoft's HoloLens

Microsoft said developers building on Windows 10 would already be familiar with how to build for HoloLens.

"Having this same foundation means that developers will be familiar with the tools and benefits of the Windows Store," the company said. "The best way to get started is to become familiar with Windows 10 by joining the Windows Insider Program."

Microsoft promised more HoloLens training for developers at its Build 2015 conference.

Microsoft also set up Twitter handle @HoloLens yesterday, which accrued over 18,000 followers in its first 12 hours.

GALLERY: Microsoft's HoloLens

"Holographic computing is here, enabled by Windows 10," the first post bragged.

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