Since the introduction of the HoloLens at Microsoft’s Windows 10 January event, the software giant has been slowly revealing more and more details of the device and how it works to bring holograms to life, blurring the boundaries between the virtual and the real world.
Today, in a Lumia Conversations blog post, Microsoft talked a little more about the hardware aspect of the HoloLens. The company revealed that it worked with industrial designers, human factors experts, and engineering teams to ensure that the HoloLens is as comfortable as possible to wear for anyone that tries the device on, which is no easy task to accomplish.
“The device weighs significantly less than the average laptop, while at the same time containing significantly more computing power. And, to accommodate a large number of customers, HoloLens is designed to adjust to fit a wide range of head sizes and shapes while also accommodating most eyewear, without putting any undue pressure on your ears or nose.”
Since you’ll be able to pin holograms to different areas of your environment, it is important that you be able to hear them, and know their location without needing to face them first. This is why Microsoft implemented ‘spatial sound’ to HoloLens in addition to an array of microphones to capture your voice commands.
“Using a scientific model that characterizes how the human ear receives sound from a specific physical location, HoloLens can synthesize a binaural sound so that you perceive it to come from a specific location in the physical space around you.”
HoloLens comes with a large number of sensors, including a depth sensor to accurately map your environment and read your hand gestures, and a photo and video cameras to share what you see with others. Everything is captured using what Microsoft calls the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that encompasses an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a magnetometer, and head tracking cameras.
Remember that HoloLens is a completely untethered device. Unlike other virtual reality headsets, the HoloLens does not require a connection to a smartphone or a PC, and it doesn’t require external cameras to work either. This also means that Microsoft had to fit all of the computing hardware in the device itself.
Internally, the HoloLens houses the IMU, in addition to a CPU and a GPU. The third chip, is the Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) that Microsoft invented specifically for the HoloLens. The HPU make it possible for the HoloLens to instantly process all the information being fed by the plethora of sensors on the device to make for a smooth, lag-free user experience. Microsoft will also provide the HPU APIs to developers so that they can also take advantage of the chip.
“This custom silicon efficiently processes data from the sensors, resulting in a relatively simple yet informative output that can be easily used by developers so they can focus on creating amazing experiences without having to work through complex physics calculations.”
Alas, there is still no information on pricing or availability of the HoloLens for consumers or developers, so we’ll have to sit tight, and wait a little longer for that. A safe assumption though would be after the release of Windows 10. What do you think of the HoloLens, will it live up to all the hype surrounding it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.Further reading: HoloLens, Microsoft, Virtual Reality