Microsoft's Nadella weighs in on Pokémon Go, HoloLens, and the bright future for AR

Call it what you will but Pokémon Go is turning into a cultural phenomenon that is leaving Microsoft out of the party. That situation is not lost on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" who sat down with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to talk about augmented reality (AR) and what it means for business.

The conversation starts off with the observation that Pokémon Go is like HoloLens, but a lot cheaper and more prevalent. That raises the question of what does HoloLens offer that is more than what we already have. Nadella, being the consummate optimist remarks "This Pokémon interest will hopefully will translate into a lot of interest in HoloLens".

Nadella didn't end there as he was glad to see the success of Pokémon Go as it bodes well for AR in general:

I think it's fantastic to see these augmented reality applications getting built because the best thing that can happen when you're creating a new category is for applications that are these killer apps, whether it be a game or in the industrial scenario, to get invested in.

Nadella also points out that something like Pokémon Go would great with HoloLens (something we suggested yesterday):

Think about it. The game physics of that app is built for something like HoloLens. Of course, the phone is great…but think about what that game on HoloLens would mean. You are not trying to use a phone when you can just use your eyes to look through and have that augmented reality experience.

The conversation, however, switches from games to something more familiar to Microsoft: enterprise and business. Here, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt jumps in to lend a hand by talking up the benefits of HoloLens for their company noting that GE is "quite keen on" what Microsoft is doing mostly because of their advanced stage of development.

Immelt goes to give one scenario where via augmented reality you can "visualize and manage the human data interface" when doing repairs on power plants and more. Immelt suggests if you can reduce repairs by just ten percent because you get it right the first time "you could save 50 billion dollars."

"The industrial implications of this [HoloLens, AR] are going to be billions of dollars in productivity." - General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt

Compared to Pokémon's Go's estimated $1.7 million in revenue a day and you can see why a company like Microsoft sees the AR industrial applications as a little more attractive.

When Immelt is asked when he thinks widespread adoption of this AR technology will take place he was adamant "within 24 months" and reiterated that this shift is happening right now. However, he did joke with Nadella that the $3,000 cost of HoloLens needs to come down likely due to GE's 20,000 field engineers who may leverage the tech.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.