It’s becoming difficult to remember what year it is. There’s a presidential race featuring Bush and Clinton, a new Star Wars movie due out this year, and even a supposedly functional hover-board. Soon we can expect to see some serious tech that will question our sense of reality. Microsoft Hololens, an “untethered, see-through holographic computer,” will debut sometime in 2016 — and many draw comparisons to Google Glass when discussing the forthcoming headset. But it begs the question, will the two devices share the same fate?
A breakthrough… almost
Google Glass was supposed to be the hallmark for the wearables industry. Back in early 2013, the ground-breaking technology was roughly in the phase that the current Hololens is in today. Journalists wrote with bewilderment as consumers began to grow hungry with anticipation for a final Glass product.
However, when you stop to think about it, the hype around Google Glass made sense. It was a mysterious product of the future that only a select group of people could use. The wearable came loaded with incredible features, like a five megapixel camera that also recorded video at 720p. But by May of 2014, the headset went on sale for consumers and we quickly realized the obvious: We didn’t need it.
What we got was a glorified smartphone strapped to your head at a hefty price tag. More importantly, it didn’t solve any problems. Ian Altman published an article on Forbes discussing the major flaws that plagued Glass. The biggest issue was that the product didn’t resolve any sort of problem or inconvenience for consumers that a smartphone couldn’t already do. Consumers were not about to shell out $1,500 bucks for a product that they didn’t understand or necessarily require, and public concern over privacy worked against the device. Plus the whole “glasshole” thing really put a damper on Google’s release.
Instead of riding out the initial public reaction to the Glass, Google did something unexpected. Earlier this year, Google pulled the plug on their product and hasn’t been particularly vocal about the future of the device. Rumors suggest that the next iteration of Google Glass will be focused on professionals even though Google has made no announcement.
The fate of the Hololens
So will the Hololens similarly crumble after it’s released? Probably not. Holistically, the products are completely different, serve different functions, and have been marketed to different target audiences.
The Microsoft device implements unparalleled augmented reality technology, unlike Google Glass that simply displayed information from your smartphone. The Hololens creates a completely different experience through deep immersion so that the user can heavily interact in AR, and it is designed for cross-functional capabilities, like business and recreational. Microsoft recently announced that Xbox Live will be accessible through the Hololens, which would bring a swath of gamers to the platform.
Microsoft recognizes the widespread use that this product can have and marketed that to their advantage. While Google had difficulty pinpointing who actually needed the Glass headset, Microsoft is incredibly clear. The Hololens is primarily for the enterprise sector and the gaming sector. Everyone knows that you will be able to enjoy the Hololens for recreational use, but it terms of market acquisition, Hololens is catering right to the people who want it most.
It’s still too early to tell for the pricing, but it is expected to compete with the Oculus Rift. Rumors around the Internet are claiming a price tag between $300 to $500, but that is probably unlikely. Here’s hoping Microsoft will put a fair price out and avoid a cataclysmic reaction like the unfortunate Xbox One.