If you’re wearing Microsoft HoloLens and no one else can see the mixed reality you’re experiencing, is it really happening? And is it really as cool as you say it is?
When I experienced and wrote about HoloLens last year, that was a chief concern for me. I did my best to describe what it was like to wear the headset and see digital objects interacting with the real world and responding to my own actions.
However, nothing was as convincing as the video that showed my view of the world through the HoloLens system.HoloLens, in case you forgot, is a wearable Windows 10 PC. It presents mixed-reality versions of games, educational content, travelogues, how-tos and enterprise tasks in a virtual 25-inch screen that floats in front of the wearer’s face.
When you turn, that screen turns with you, which can create the illusion of a larger, mixed-reality space. The extensible system is currently in the hands of developers. Although there’s no plan to bring HoloLens itself to consumers, a number of manufacturers will soon debut headsets compatible with the platform, Windows Holographic.
The ability to see what a HoloLens wearer is seeing, called Mixed Reality Capture, is built into the headset, but the eye-popping demos we’ve seen at Microsoft Build and in videos provided by Microsoft almost invariably show us both the HoloLens wearer and virtual objects in one HD video.
\The company has always used special rigs to capture this video and live feeds. Now, Microsoft announced on Monday, they’re making the necessary tools available to developers.Called Spectator View, this hardware and software setup will allow HoloLens developers to capture photos, videos and stream mixed reality presentations live.
The only catch and it is a big catch is that Spectator View requires both a second HoloLens and a DSLR camera with HDMI output. On top of that, you’ll also need a tripod, a special aluminum HoloLens bracket and a custom 3D-printed adapter.
Keep in mind a single HoloLens Developer Edition headset costs $3,000. So using Spectator View will literally cost you thousands of additional of dollars. In addition, you need to have some familiarity with 3D printing and programming.
Clearly, this is something only bigger organizations will be able to implement, but given Microsoft has mostly focused HoloLens on enterprise and education (Minecraft tricks notwithstanding), that isn’t entirely a surprise.