New HoloLens video demos usage in medicine, is more honest about field of view

Today, Microsoft has published a new video highlighting HoloLens and their partnership with Case Western Reserve University. The deal between the two institutions was announced back at Build along with a demonstration on stage. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Case Western Reserve University is a private research university who plans to use HoloLens to teach anatomy and solving human problems.

The two-minute video demonstrates how HoloLens can reveal aspects of the human body including the inner layers of the heart to students for a clearer understanding of human anatomy. It is a fascinating example of how HoloLens is not just a gimmick but something that can be used to solved real-world problems.

Perhaps more interestingly is how the video portrays the holograms. It is no secret that some in the media have felt a little crestfallen over the representation of holograms using HoloLens. Specifically, previous videos implied that the holograms filled a user's field of view. Instead, from first-hand usage, some of us noticed that the actual FOV was much more limited, resulting in cut-off holograms. It is not bad, just not what was expected and clearly a limitation on some of the first-gen technology in 2015.

Now, in today's video you can see faint lines of where the hologram begins and ends, more accurately representing what a user sees when wearing the hardware. As someone who has worn the device on four separate occasions, I can say that this is certainly more realistic.

Microsoft is clearly taking a slow and steady approach to HoloLens, refining the hardware, working with partners and gearing up for what will probably be a limited rollout sometime later this year (hopefully).

It remains to be seen how people will react to the limited FOV, however, my recent gaming experience at E3 was very positive, and I am not too concerned. After all, we now have freaking holographic computing.

Source: Microsoft Research; Big thanks to Ryan B., for the tip!

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

101 Comments
  • Woo
  • Nice
  • It will be interesting to see what happens for gen-2 as they improve the FOV and refine the product.
  • I don't think they should launch the product at all, except for maybe commercial-use only, until they get the field-of-view resolved. If it's not what people expect at the start, it's going to fail. It's important to get it right, much more so than getting it out early.
  • It's not possible to fix with current technology. Unless you use a hybrid virtual where a display is mounted on optics which is overlaid with camera footage. That option also has a downside of low resolution which is currently limited to about 600pdi.
  • I know nothing about creating holographic computing devices, and I'm pretty sure you don't either. Journalists have said the field-of-view at the January 21 event was significantly larger than it was at BUILD and E3. Those original prototypes were connected to more powerful PCs. I'm guessing that's the difference.
  • Yeah, I'd guess combination of better computers, and more-likely, battery life of displaying that much more screen space (and cost of that many additional pixels - i'm sure it's a decent difference)
  • if so they could have the out side of things have less res and more bluried like our eyes already do. infect our eyes are pretty bad at this, there is a small point with our eyes where everything is crips then it blurs out
  • It may be a sacrifice Microsoft made to keep it in one small package.  Otherwise ppl would have to wear a backpack with a computer in it to power the hololens.  Would you rather have that instead?
  • Otherwise ppl would have to wear a backpack with a computer in it to power the hololens.
    Indeed! he he. I saw a demo use of VR for exploring virtual scapes. It was an Occulus the person was wearing, and 30secs in you get to see the huge backpack she's wearing, which probably encompasses the laptop and battery pack that's plugged into the Oculus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX3JVbRNMa8 Funnily enough, for me, it wasn't the actual exploration of the [virtual] tomb that was scary. It was the fact that one is completely blinded by the Rift and is reliant on the 'set' being exactly clear of obstacles or unforseen factors. IMO (and maybe because HoloLens isn't yet available) if you're going to go to all that trouble and effort to build the set and equip it with additional machinery (laptops, external battery packs, external cameras, etc) then one may as well use an AR set, which would well eliminate liabilities.  
  • I said it in the original FOV article, and I will say it again here. It has nothing to do with the power of the computers, and almost* nothing to do with battery life. It's all about the size and weight of the non-computer optical components required to get the pixels to the eyes. The earlier prototype with the larger FOV was not housed in the final case, and was larger and heavier. *larger screens do consume more power than smaller screens due to the backlighting, but the size of the screens used in Hololens (in order to fit inside the plastic case) are significantly smaller than mobile phone screens, and so this is not really an issue.
  • I say rubbish. The only reason there was such a difference between their demo experiences is that they no longer viewed holgraphic computing as wonderous; now it's more: what hasn't Microsoft done well enough. In short the ususal 'we have to do our jobs and critique Microsoft!'   I had to go far back to January and read the [usually] vindictive The Register's view of the January demo (which you should check out yourself); in it the reporter/blogger distinctly noted that there was a field of view box applied to the holographs! As a comparison, I don't see many stating Apple Watch is useless (or not done well enough) for simply having a sub 38 or 42mm screen that doesn't perform any on-board computations? Or that Google Glass (prior to its crash and burn) is non-viable for simply being a semi-transparent screen with a low resolution that only beams to one eye?!   As a version 1 product I consider it perfectly adequate for release. It doesn't need to 100%; just over 85%!
  • Not all are obsessed with FOV and can find a purpose.
  • It's not about what mainstream consumers want; it's about bad press from journalists. Same thing happened to the original Xbox One policies.
  • Which seems precisely why they ahve made point of showing a limited FoV in this demo. Seriously, I work in a fairly high tech industry, computer graphics, and nobody I work with had seen or heard anything about HoloLens until i showed them some of the videos last week. What has gone around so far is very limited to tech-heads, there has been little or nothing about it in mainstream media.
  • I think its fine to get it out there and improve, because this time they have the luxury of being the first. If Apple or Google already had this working well, then yes, I would say wait. I think its ready for primetime even with these limits. Just the fact that its fully self-contained is pretty amazing.
  • Agreed! This product really needs to be spectacular, and there needs to be many apps and uses for it when they do release it.
  • Can you imagine if Apple had said this with the original iPhone, when it launched without MMS, 3G, an App Store or Apps, no copy paste etc. etc? Certain technologies are such a leap that having small first gen compromises doesn't diminish them.
  • FoV is only an issue for immersive gaming, for everyting else it is preferable to have high res holograms rather than spread those pixels out over a wider FoV. Looking at this video, the FoV seems more than acceptable for everything I envisage using HoloLens for.
  • Eye replacement. Or maybe just a contact lens.
  • http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/b-c-doctor-says-perfect-vision-possible-wit...
  • I think just stretch it out a little more.
  • Still look awesome to me
  • I still want one.
  • Based on what the media was saying, I thought the FOV was really small. If this video portrays the real FOV accurately, I think the media are over-blowing it. The FOV will not be comprehensive but I still think it is a good enough size that I am excited about this. 
  • Plus a lot of it depends on having the HoloLens fitted right. If it's even off slightly, it looks much worse.
  • Can see what their trying to do in vid, but mixing actual fov with full view still gives wrong impression.
    They should just show the real fov all the way through, that way sets correct expectations and any improvements are icing on cake.
    Real fov is impressive enough, all things considered.
  • @Nanoo123That doesn't make any sense at all. Why would they cut off what you *actually* see?
  • You can't actually see the full holograms that they show, only the partial ones in rectangle they show sometimes. Watch the vid and you'll see a mix of real fov and full fov.
    I'm saying would be best not to mix and match.
    Can only think it doesn't make sense if you not watched vid?
  • It has head tracking, so you can look at the entire skeleton, and i'm sure if you step back you can see the entire thing.  You do loose some of what you would normally see, but you can't see the entire skeleton without moving your head irl depending on distance anyhow.
  • Exactly. You can only see it by moving your head, it's not got iris tracking, just head.
    I did like when they showed the correct fov though, we finally get an actual idea what it's like. I'm personally pretty impressed by it.
  • Same. When Daniel and Thurrott were calling it a mail slot, I imagined basically a 1520 held arm length away. This still seems pretty cool.
  • Tbh that's disappointing, I'd much rather have a slightly larger screen and get a better FOV. It also looks like the holograms are slightly transparent? Kinda takes away from the realism.
  • That transparency would be for aesthetics. I've read hands-on reports where they say items they viewed were completely solid.
  • re: transparency: It's unavoidable in an optical see-through HMD. You still have the light from the real world entering your eyes, all that can be done is to add more light to what you see. For example: it is impossible to make a black (or even slightly darker) hologram on top of a real scene: you cannot subtract the light from the real world. Just like the FOV issue, without changing the underlying technology (i.e. using video see-through instead of optical see-through, or some kind of adaptive transparent LCD directly in front of the eyes that can block light) there is no way to make a fully opaque (or dark) hologram. No increase in computing power or battery size can help.
  • People who have used it have said the holograms are solid and block out the background. And the field of view was already larger in the original version with the same technology they showed to journalists, but had to scale it back for the retail model. It'll get better in the next version it's not some fundamental physical impossibility, just a matter of cost, size and horsepower, all of which get better in the compueting world at an enormous pace.
  • People who have used it are probably not looking for the tell-tale signs that are there. Every single video shows the holograms as additively overlayed on top of the real world, as _basic physics_ says they must be given the tech used. Again, the FOV issue is not at all related to computing horsepower. It's about the size and weight of the non-electronic optical components. Without a fundamental change in the display tech (such as direct retinal projection) or some new optical breakthrough, advances in the computing power not just won't but physically cannot increase the FOV, since the limitaiton is elsewhere in the device.
  • Without specifically mentioning what the marked area means, its still deceptive. They should show exactly what you see instead of still implying you can see more. But I guess I just havent had as much kool aid as others...
  • Actually, what they show in the video and in the screencaps is what you would see. Don't you notice how the top head and bottom legs are cut off or the bottom of the heart?
  • Maybe you're dehydrated? I saw the "cut off" FOV in the video.
  • Awesome!
  • I wonder if its possible to make a bigger FOV with software or if its gonna be improved dramatically in the 2 version of the device. I think I'll pass this one
  • That was going to be my question for anyone who has insight. Is the FOV limitation hardware (lense, camera, etc.) or software (bits being rendered, floating point calculations, etc.).
  • I believe the actual physics problem behind the method they are using hasn't been solved yet.
  • Yep, it's a problem of the physics of optics. No increase solely in software or the CPU/GPU will help.
  • I wonder if it's less software and more hardware? Maybe the bigger lense costs more, or takes up more battery/processing. Makes me wonder if we'll see Versions of Hololense that increase FOV at increased price? Like a Light, Basic, and Pro version. all with differnt FOV I'd most likely get this version just for the wow factor and early adoption, then wait for the 180 degree FOV version in the future :)
  • It could even be based on the distance between your eyes that they have to measure when they celebrate it. Doesn't seem to be something can be deduced until they give us some details.
  • It's definitely hardware. Paul Thurott said when he first tried it the FOV was bigger but that was when it was a head unit strapped with cables to a big computer box. Now that they have it all incorporated in a headset the FOV got smaller.
  • True, but I tried if since Paul did at Build..two more times in fact at E3, and things are getting better.
  • Lenses to make the images bigger are, well, bigger and heavier. Or they introduce bad fish-eye distortion, which is a deal-killer in optical see-through HMDs.
  • I would say it's the hardware. I've seen mention of collimated projection technique being used.
  • Someone needs to ask Tony Stark how he's doing it.
  • About time. HoloLens will see even more applications in the near future. Limited FOV isn't that bad a limitaion as what people babble about it, not to me, tbh. HoloLens is apparently powerful and is already discovering it's use in Medical, gaming and space grounds (as seen few weeks back). It's like a magic wand to entrepreneurs. What remains to be seen is what it brings to consumers. And I'm sure it'll happen in future too, because what once used to be found only in business rooms are now available for public use, many things. I also hope Microsoft will come up with a smaller version (like Google Glass) that could be easily worn outdoors.
  • I think a distinction needs to be done with Google Glass and outdoor wearing potential. They are very different devices in regards to projected use. They might converge at some time, but right now, Glass is little more than a really weird cellphone, and HoloLens is an indoor device. As far as I know, it couldn't map terrain as you walk, in real time, or read distant objects, it wouldn't work as well. We'll see what the future brings.
  • Even with the limited FOV, I still think I'm going to be on board with gen 1 as long as the comfort and battery life are passable. It's really hard to pass up jumping on something that elicts feelings of "THIS SHIT IS THE FUTURE!!!"
  • This has some seriously awesome potential for pornography, much more so than VR does, because it can offer a mixed-reality (i.e. overlying your own body). I hope they don't pull a Betamax and try to restrict that in any way. Customers are customers.
  • Bing is the best search engine for porn, so I think Microsoft is perfectly aware how much attention porn could attract. I agree with you about AR vs VR though. I think Microsoft has a golden (shower) opportunity to "get on top" by being as "open" as possible.
  • "Bing is the best search engine for porn". Oh, believe me, I know. Love that video-rollover preview. Makes finding the right clip so much more efficient.
  • Understandable and I totally believe it, just try your best to be clean with your conversation. Underage kids do come here to read news too :)
  • Man, those HoloLens are getting more and more inspiring day by day when I see all those possibilities :)
  • That's actually not as bad as I gathered from Paul and MJ.  I definitely think it's acceptable for v1.
  • I really hope they fix this in Gen 2. Even in these pictures you can tell it drastically reduces the impact.
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