Microsoft Technology and the Future of Virtual Reality
Microsoft’s new HoloLens was introduced in late January and may actually be a game changer. The HoloLens, which some people have inaccurately compared with Google Glass, is a wearable device that projects a hologram to create a virtual reality environment. The new HoloLens is still in the prototype phase with no specific release date, but it is anticipated to be released sometime this year, around the same time Windows 10 is released.
The glasses, a lot like ‘ski goggles’ according to one report, enable a person to see a three-dimensional world and interact with it. A technology writer at The New York Times who was at the unveiling event described a Minecraft scene displayed over a real room in which they were able to take a virtual hammer and smash a real coffee table. The coffee table splintered virtually and then disappeared from the virtual view.
The implications of using this type of technology for virtual learning are mind boggling. The current generation of children, who are growing up with computers and video games like Minecraft, are consequently developing fine motor skills at an early age. Many kids, if you watch them closely, do not need to look at their hands on their game controller or keyboard. Their brains automatically know which buttons to press in quick succession. They have essentially tuned out the world around them to focus on a specific task.
Flash forward about ten years and think of this computer-savvy video-playing generation learning everything from how to fix a car to performing surgery using a virtual reality system. It could lead to a whole new way of approaching education and exploring career options. Wouldn’t it be great if you could explore a new interest, like skydiving, in a virtual setting before taking the plunge for real?
Making virtual reality a part of our everyday lives is not just a Microsoft movement. If you’ll remember, Facebook acquired Oculus VR last March and Google invested in Magic Leap in October, which claims to be ‘transcending’ virtual reality and augmented reality. Samsung and Sony are also making a bid to compete as well.