What you need to know
- Microsoft's HoloLens division reportedly has internal disagreements regarding the future of HoloLens.
- The reports sparked a discussion about if Microsoft should create a consumer-focused HoloLens in the future.
- Over 85% of participants in our poll on the topic want to see a HoloLens for consumers.
Despite no major announcements or official statements, last week was a busy period for Microsoft's HoloLens division. A report emerged on February 2, 2022 that the HoloLens 3 had been canceled and that the division behind the device was in disarray. Microsoft's Alex Kipmen refuted some of those claims, stating that "HoloLens is doing great." A follow-up report confirmed that the HoloLens 3 was canceled and reiterated that the Microsoft's mixed reality division was in shambles.
The conflicting reports and statements sparked a conversation on the web regarding the future of HoloLens. We ran a poll over the weekend asking if people would like to see a consumer-focused HoloLens, to which 85% of voters said yes.
While the poll voters favored Microsoft creating a consumer version of the HoloLens, those that commented on our article leaned toward sticking with professional users.
"A year ago, I would have answered with a certain yes. Now, as disappointing as it is, I think it's a waste of time and money," said leo74 in the comments section of our poll piece. "Microsoft hasn't really figured out how to work the consumer side of things."
Vincent McLaughlin commented that Microsoft should continue to focus on professional users. "As much as I would like to see this device in consumer hands, there has to be compelling use cases that will prompt the average consumer to purchase it, considering it will not exactly be cheap," they explained. "Microsoft [needs] to focus on military, businesses and education for the [HoloLens]."
Others believed that Microsoft would never go the consumer route when it comes to augmented reality. "I've assumed for some time Hololens and the tech included would be for commercial and military use and not for consumers," said "Monte Constable1."
There was some support for a consumer-focused HoloLens in the comments, though with a caveat. "I would love a more consumer focused Hololens to augment gaming or to compliment Windows 11," said Scovious2. "I would hate a device that required me to buy a Samsung phone. Why would I buy another phone when my last phone lasted 6 years and I just bought a Duo 2?"
Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com (opens in new tab).
I'd be curious among those who said yes, how much they would expect to pay for it. Would people spend $1,000 for a consumer AR/VR experience with a big headset? How many at $500? How many if it were free? Let's say VR consumer users are primarily gaming (I realize there are other consumer applications, but that's probably the biggest market). I suspect, but it's just speculation, that the % of Xbox and PC gamers willing to pay $1,000 is very small, maybe something like 2-3% (probably higher on PC and lower on Xbox, due to the already-high cost of good gaming PCs), maybe gets to something like 5-6% at $500, and that's assuming the reviews are great and there is excellent content available (much closer to 0% otherwise). I suspect that even at free, while, sure, everyone would take the HoloLens hardware, total usage wouldn't get too much higher. I just don't see typical users putting on headgear for gaming or any other form of entertainment. 3D viewing equipment for 3D TV's was effectively free, as unobtrusive as headgear can be (pair of glasses), benefited from every major manufacturer promoting it, and yet still saw such low adoption that content creators effectively stopped offering 3D content for home use. The main reason given for not using 3D: hassle of putting on glasses and everyone needing to wear them for the experience to work. Absent hard data, I confess I could be wrong with these figures, but I suspect the actual data backs this up which is why MS hasn't put too much effort into a consumer version. The only argument I see for a consumer version is that it may become more important in the future and getting into the space now gives MS a first mover advantage to get in and learn and be dominant in the future. That seems like a pretty weak argument to me, given that there isn't even a theoretical solution (let alone one around the corner in the next few years) to the headset hassle.
Science fiction often inspires actual technological development. But there are a few areas where reality falls so far short of what we can all imagine that the science fiction is really just fantasy. VR and faster than light travel are the 2 big examples of pure fantasy. Maybe one day, but the simulated realities we see in the movies are at least decades, maybe centuries in our future. Blade Runner robots will be here sooner than good VR.
VR is a pretty good experience right now as it is, have you tried it?
fdruid, yes, and I agree that it's pretty good. The problem is the effort involved in using it -- the headset, the hassle. I think 3D glasses and 3D TV's are a proper analogy. That failed almost exclusively because consumers as a mass market were not willing to wear 3D glasses and all it took was 1 person in a family to not like wearing them to mean the family couldn't watch 3D TV together. The reward with VR or AR is greater, but so is the hassle that killed 3D TV and the isolation between friends or family who are physically in the same room. I believe that even if it were free, it would not achieve mass adoption and regular usage in the current state. If they could give us a Holodeck, or even just projected holograms without wearing a headset, I think it would have a shot. Short of that, I think it's destined to remain a niche product.
I remember people said the same thing about phablets which today are just normal phones. With the advent of the metaverse the Hololens could be the future of communications. Or not.
Not. Especially at its price point and level of performance. Super cool tech that would be a niche consumer product and would not be feasible to make affordable for consumers. Can MS deliver it in the 300 to 500 dollar wi dow? I am certain the answer is no
Monte, even if they could, I am dubious that the current form factor and software would be appealing. I don't think it would reach mass-market usage even if it were free. There are just too many negatives with the equipment and other activities competing for people's time that they prefer to "gearing up" to do VR. The irony is that Meta is trying to treat it as a social experience. There is nothing less social than putting on a helmet that blocks your eyes. Facebook works, because it enables being social at times that you otherwise can't be (riding the bus, sitting on the toilet, a quick check on your phone in those brief moments while the person you're actually with leaves the room to get a drink). But if you can actually talk with real people in your house, for most of the population, that's better. The hassle of time to gear-up and then be socially isolated from your friends or family, means that you can effectively only do VR with large blocks of time and when you're by yourself. That's a very niche opportunity. And without a full body suit to provide physical sensations, it's just a 3D display with a really nice controller... nothing about that screams "social" to me.
Ben, that's not the same, because it was just a transition, not an entire change in behavior. Before smartphones, the move of the market was to ever smaller phones -- the classic evolution of technology. Smaller is better (remember Zoolander with his matchbook-sized ultra elite phone?). With smartphones, it took a few generations to reverse that direction and get people to want the biggest screen they could comfortably carry around. But this was always somewhat predictable: people always wanted the biggest screen on the smallest phone, so it was not a surprise that some people would actually go for a bigger phone if that's what it took to get them a bigger screen. The only part of this that was unknown at the outset was what % of users would be willing to sacrifice the ease of carrying a tiny phone to get a bigger screen. There is currently nothing suggesting that users are running out to buy headgear and wear them around their friends and families. Now, if you could provide a VR experience via the headgear that the kids with really crooked teeth have to wear, they'd probably appreciate that. But most of the world would rather avoid that stuff and hassle, or only try it out occasionally for the novelty.
They want it to be 300 bucks like the Quest 2, otherwise it's another MS scam.
This is the age of entitlement.
Give it to Phil Spencer! He'll get it right. Of all the execs at Microsoft, he's probably the most successful right now. ...And what happened to Panos? He's been silent and I used to love hearing from him. For whatever reason, his deadpan enthusiasm always gave me hope.
The bigger question would be what would people actually do, or WANT to do with it? I've had the opportunity to use Hololens , it's amazing, yes. I even got to use some business apps for it. But what am I going to do with this right now as a consumer after the novelty wears off? I'd be more excited for a headset that can actually transition from AR to VR use and THAT being a true Mixed Reality device, because I use my VR headia good deal
Exactly! And how much will Co summers be willng to pay
Of course readers said that, the general public want, want, want without actually considering a need. It's hilarious. I legit can't actually think of a reason why I would ever use a HoloLens (as it currently exists) in a consumer setting. Now, VR I can at least understand the use of it, is not my jam, but I can appreciate its attraction. Mixed reality though? In a headset that weighs a couple pounds? Just no. The Google Glass form factor is infinitely better as an AR/mixed reality device and it died in the arse so I can't fathom how people think this would be of any use to an average joe.
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