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Microsoft HoloLens Is an Insane Pair of Augmented-Reality Goggles

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At its Windows 10 unveiling today, Microsoft saved the best for last. 

Forget voice and gesture interfaces, virtual reality, or Google Glass. Today Microsoft announced a next-generation interface familiar to any fan of Star Trek: Next Generation: Holograms.

Windows Holographic will give software developers the ability to create a 3D holographic interface to any Windows 10 app, says Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman. 

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And to allow you to see these holograms, Microsoft is introducing the HoloLens, a wireless 3D holographic display with its own CPU, graphic, and holographic processors. The glasses will be able to sense where you are in the room, respond to hand gestures, and allow you to manipulate 3D objects floating in front of you — no external markers or cameras required.

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Once unleashed, this technology could help designers build 3D prototypes, allow architects to do virtual walkthroughs of buildings that don’t yet exist, train doctors in new surgical techniques, and “turn your living room into a surreal gaming environment,” says Kipman.

Microsoft also introduced HoloStudio, software that allows you to create three dimensional objects using only gestures and voice commands. 

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On stage, Director of Microsoft’s Studio Business Lorraine Bardeen designed a quad-copter drone in about five minutes, which was later sent to a 3D printer and made real.

"It’s like print preview for a 3D printer," Kipman said.

To prove that this is more than just a headline-grabbing research project, Kipman revealed that Microsoft has been working with the Jet Propulsion Labs on using Windows Hologram and the HoloLens to control the Mars Rover. JPL scientists hope to use the technology to control the movements of the vehicle on the red planet’s surface by next July. 

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"It sounds crazy, maybe impossible," Kipman said. "But in software, nothing is impossible. At best it’s improbable. With a little bit of luck and a lot of pixie dust, the improbable becomes possible, and holographs become part of our everyday lives."

No pricing or availability was announced.