Microsoft’s new HoloLens promises to blend the real world with the virtual. Source: Microsoft
Ryan Wittingslow, ‘With HoloLens, the future of reality is augmented’, The Conversation, 6 February 2015
Although having been announced only a fortnight ago, tech media are already dreaming feverishly of the potential applications for such a device. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s own press images seem to promise a benign utopia replete with living room Minecraft games and attractive, tech-savvy white people.
It might look rather like an excitingly chunky pair of wrap-around sunglasses, but Microsoft promises that it is entirely self-contained, with speakers, lens and CPU housed entirely within the chassis.
Being substantially smaller than the Oculus Rift, and intended to be less invasive than Google’s much-maligned Glass, HoloLens provides perhaps the most credible attempt to introduce augmented reality into our homes.
The future of consumption
If this outcome is realised, it seems obvious to expect radical shifts in manufacturing and other secondary industries. Already there have been murmurs of concern and excitement about the possible economic ramifications of cheap 3D printing, particularly with regards to what it means for the manufacture of simple items.
If Microsoft is successful in killing off the television and other media apparatuses, we may well also see manufacturing shrink from the other end. If the HoloLens and products like it do supplant other consumer electronics, we will be witness to the slow, awful collapse of what is currently a highly speciated consumer landscape into a homogeneous field of kooky-looking headsets.