Microsoft is no stranger to bringing innovative new gadgets to the market. While their success is mixed, the HoloLens has turned a lot of heads. While it never received a solid release date, Microsoft has indefinitely delayed the HoloLens until they feel “the world is ready.”
It’s about more than just a fancy phrase like that. Microsoft is terrified that the HoloLens could magnificently flop like the Kinect did, and for good reason. While many would assume that the HoloLens would be out in plenty of time before the Xbox 2, this news combined with other factors has shown me that we won’t be enjoying augmented reality by the time the next generation console is released. Read on to find out why.
HoloLens “Indefinitely” Delayed: 4 Reasons Why Xbox 2 is Coming First
The HoloLens is innovative, there’s no denying that, but so was the Kinect back before it released. Alex Kipman, creator of the HoloLens, showed off some impressive demos of the device at the TED conference in Vancouver. He was able to show off the headset by putting a camera with a fisheye lens inside one of the prototypes.
Through the HoloLens, audience members saw rain fall on the stage and flowers bloom from the aftermath. They saw Alex speaking with a NASA scientist who was a block away and using a HoloLens of his own. They were able to speak while standing on the surface of Mars.
It’s cool, but Microsoft isn’t ready to let the general public get their hands on it. Currently, the only way to try it is if you’re a qualified developer and you want a HoloLens development kit for the cool price of $3,000.
Kipman claims that the kit is practically ready for consumer use, but the issue comes from a lack of content. “If a consumer bought it today, they would have 12 things to do with it,” he said, “and they would say ‘cool, I just bought a $3,000 product that I can do 12 things with and now it is collecting dust.’”
Here are four reasons why the HoloLens won’t be here in time for Xbox 2:
1. Microsoft Doesn’t Want Another Kinect-Sized Failure
Microsoft wanted to change how we played games with the Kinect (known as Project Natal originally). They wanted to replace the controller with your own body. Here’s the thing: it worked most of the time, but it had a few glaring issues. In addition, there was a massive lack of games to play on it.
Honestly, it begs the question of whether or not the Xbox 2 will have a Kinect sensor. Originally I would have told you that the HoloLens would easily be the accessory of choice, but given this news, I think it’s possible Microsoft could try and revive their failed sensor.
See, the goal with the Kinect was focused on gaming, but the long-term goal of the HoloLens is meant to revolutionize computing. Microsoft wants to bring holograms into the world around you and remove need for monitors and keyboards.
In that sense, there’s room for both devices or the possibility for them to work together. It’s all well and good, but the HoloLens can easily hit the same obstacles as the Kinect. For starters, this is completely new territory in terms of technology and interfacing.
Microsoft can’t afford to release the HoloLens and then have it fall prey to a lack of content/support like their motion sensor. In order to avoid this kind of failure, they need to take a step back and better prepare themselves.
2. Market to a Wide Audience
The marketing for the Kinect tried to reaching gamers of all kinds. In doing so, it set up expectations that weren’t met by the selection of titles. People were totally pumped at first, but they quickly moved on to the next thing.
The requirements were also unrealistic. I mean, come on, how many people have a living room big enough for the Kinect? The answer is not many. Hardcore titles also rarely supported the device, which didn’t help matters.
To combat this, Microsoft is marketing their HoloLens to a wider audience than the Kinect. A lot of the demos have shown the device being used for engineers, science, or other workplace items. Then, of course, you have things like projecting your television screen’s image in front of you, and the famous Minecraft E3 demo where the device was used to interact with the ever-popular title.
It’s clear that the HoloLens can appeal to both of these parties, but the wider the audience, the better chance it catches on with at least one of these groups. Microsoft is keen on selling the headset as a broad device for a number of different purposes.
3. Build a Large Library of Apps/Games
This first approach to the HoloLens is focused on developers. This is meant to ensure that people will have more than a handful of things to do with it when it comes out. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has called the Hololens a “Five-year-journey” which suggests it may not even be ready for public consumption until 2020 or later.
The development kit currently being sold if the first version of the device. It’s meant to spark interest in developing a wide range of content for the headset. If Microsoft can attract a huge following from developers, it can guarantee a better success rate that the Kinect.
Since the HoloLen’s is focusing on more than just games, this also allows Microsoft to attract a wide variety of developers who can make things beyond games. This developers are also probably already making apps for Windows 10.
4. Set Realistic Expectations, Improve on Limitations
The demos for the HoloLens have shown us incredible holograms that span entire rooms. This isn’t the truth, though. In reality, the field of view when wearing the HoloLens is a lot smaller. What you see won’t fill the entire line of sight. Turn your head too far and the hologram is gone.
The demos thus far have been a little misleading. Developers have already expressed their lack of enthusiasm in the small field of view. The lack of a more immersive experience is causing first impressions to be less than stellar.
During an interview on Giant Bomb Live, HoloLens executive Kudo Tsunoda said that things may change before the final release, but not by much: “I think you're never going to get to full peripheral field of view, but certainly the hardware we have the field of view isn't exactly final. But I wouldn't say it's going to be hugely noticeably different either."
Thus far, Microsoft has been pitching a far different device. This knowledge could significantly lower the number of people who would be interested in the device. Right now, technology is holding them back, so here’s hoping they can somehow fix the issue prior to launch. Otherwise the desire for the headset will be limited compared to more gaming centric options like PlayStation VR or the Oculus Rift.
Xbox Two Takes the Lead
The HoloLens still has a lot to figure out. Not to mention, Microsoft is losing in the console war. They can’t afford a failure, so they’re going to perfect the HoloLens before making it publically available.
Meanwhile, the limited hardware of the Xbox One will soon create the need for something more substantial. While our predictions for Xbox Two put its release in 2020, the HoloLens won’t be ready by then.
What do you think? Will the Xbox 2 release first or will the HoloLens take the lead again? Would you buy the headset? For how much? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: The thoughts expressed in this article are the opinions of the author (Bradley Ramsey) and do not yet represent facts or the opinions of Microsoft. Although it will probably be accurate, for now it is pure speculation. Thanks for reading!
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