Who is the father of VR?

Nowadays, the VR technology is already relatively advanced. But where does this development actually come from? If we take a look back at the beginnings of VR, we have to consider pinoeers of the 1950s and 1960s.

Morton Heilig has been touted as the father of VR as he invented the first 3D movie machine called Sensorama in 1957. Patented in 1962, it should improve the 2D movie experience.

senorama

Morton Heilig’s Sensorama Machine

“It is a simulator for one to four people that provides the illusion of reality using a 3-D motion picture with smell, stereo sound, vibrations of the seat, and wind in the hair to create the illusion.

Parts of the Sensorama are two other inventions which made it possible, the Sensorama Motion Picture Projector and the Sensorama 3-D Motion Picture Camera.”

via InventorVR.

 

 

telesphereOn top of that, Morton Heilig created the first head-mounted display (HMD) called Telesphere Mask that enables “stereoscopic 3D TV, wide vision and true stereo sound”. From our present point of view, the Telesphere Mask looks much like Facebook’s Oculus Rift and could be seen as grandfather and former ancestor.

Based on the success of these innovations, Morton Heilig developed another simulator: the Experience Theater. It works in a similar way to Sensorama, but appeals to a larger target group. Developed for an entire theater full of people, the Experience Theater shows 3D motion pictures on a large semi-spherical screen.

But Morton Heilig was not the only visionary of his time. Douglas Engelbart is another outstanding personage who had a decisive impact on the development of VR . As American engineer and inventor, he created the first graphical user interface for communicating with computers and revolutionized the human computer interaction.

engelbart

Douglas Engelbart – inventor of the computer mouse

“Rather than limit computers to number crunching, Engelbart envisioned them as tools for digital display. He knew from his days with radar that any digital information could be viewed on a screen. Why not, he then reasoned, connect the computer to a screen and use both to solve problems?”

via VIRTUAL REALITY – History.

 

Against this background, we welcome the current development. As VR sheds its ivory-tower image slowly but surely, the next-generation technology proceeds to become part of our everyday life.

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Microsoft HoloDesk – The idea behind HoloLens

Can’t get enough of AR? Make sure you have a look at the following video.

According to WT VOX,

“HoloDesk is a novel interactive system combining an optical see through display and Kinect camera to create the illusion that users are directly interacting with 3D graphics. A virtual image of a 3D scene is rendered through a half silvered mirror and spatially aligned with the real-world for the viewer. Users easily reach into an interaction volume displaying the virtual image.

This allows the user to literally get their hands into the virtual display. A novel real-time algorithm for rep- resenting hands and other physical objects, which are sensed by the Kinect inside this volume, allows physically realistic interaction between real and virtual 3D objects.”

via Microsoft HoloDesk The

Apart from this, enjoy the amazing HoloLens model by xelus. The 3D models shows and explains each part of HoloLens – good job! Just one click:

https://sketchfab.com/models/e6247ba91c6845c2948cdc342dcf3481/embed

Microsoft HoloLens
by Sketchfab
on Sketchfab

Microsoft fuels enthusiasm for HoloLens

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, commented on HoloLens at the end of last month. Just as Microsoft’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, Nadella sees great potential in gaming:

hololens4

HoloLens Minecraft project

“Just imagine what is possible with Minecraft. Gaming truly is a valuable part of millions of people’s lives and Microsoft will excel and increase our lead.”

via Microsoft CEO Talks “Mind-Blowing” Gaming Potential for HoloLens – GameSpot.

Besides this, developer Jens Bergensten posted on Twitter:

“I’ve tried 2 Minecraft projects on #HoloLens. One is a toy, one is closer to the game, both are awesome! Very much wip, but definitely real”

via Jens Bergensten auf Twitter: “I’ve tried 2 Minecraft projects on #HoloLens. One is a toy, one is closer to the game, both are awesome! Very much wip, but definitely real”.

We hear it all over the news: HoloLens is the future of gaming. But what reason does Microsoft give for this? Let’s have a look at Microsoft’s gross margins and revenues:

gaming numbers

GameSpot summarized the most important numbers and identified the following key facts:

1. Shipment of Xbox consoles in Q4 2014

“Microsoft on Monday reported earnings results for the quarter ended December 31, 2014, revealing that the company shipped (i.e. sold to retailers) more than 6.6 million Xbox consoles during the period. This is down from 7.4 million consoles shipped during the same quarter last year.”

via Microsoft Shipped 6.6 Million Xbox Consoles During Holiday Quarter – GameSpot.

2. Xbox platform revenue

“Total Xbox platform revenue fell by 20 percent to $703 million, “due to customer preference for new generation of consoles,” Microsoft said. Total console volume fell by 10 percent, while Microsoft also recorded lower revenue from second- and third-party games and accessories.”

via Microsoft Shipped 6.6 Million Xbox Consoles During Holiday Quarter – GameSpot.

3. Total Revenue / Net income

“Overall, Microsoft reported revenue of $26.5 billion for the quarter, up from $24.5 billion last year. Net income was $5.8 billion, down from $6.6 billion last year.”

via Microsoft Shipped 6.6 Million Xbox Consoles During Holiday Quarter – GameSpot.

All in all, Microsoft mentioned that the Xbox  One “sold out the rival Playstation 4” in the US and that they have had a “strong holiday season performance”.

Read GameSpot’s full article here and get more numbers & facts about the Gaming business!

HoloLens insider knowledge

92821757-XBox-720-9-24-Checkpoint-Draft-1.pptx

Ben Gilbert’s Road to Fortaleza

We were quite staggered by HoloLens after the Windows 10 live event in January 2015. But if we take a closer look at Microsoft’s corporate history, we notice that the innovation is actually not that suprising remembering several rumours and leaks in June 2012.

That time, a confidential business presentation was uploaded to Scribd. The document contains important information about various Microsoft products and their future plans. Engadget’s Ben Gilbert traced the rumour to its source and summarized his insights:

“The document is largely focused on this next console and sensor (what became the Xbox One), as well as one more big hardware announcement: HoloLens. The alternate reality headset Microsoft announced a few weeks back was originally planned for announcement in 2014, and it’s been known by a few different names (“Kinect Glasses,” “Project Fortaleza” and “Screen Zero” all show up in several places on and off the document).

I’d wager it’s had a few other names since — every time I’ve asked Microsoft reps about Fortaleza since this document first leaked in 2012, they’ve clammed up and said nothing.”

via Microsoft leaked the Xbox One, HoloLens and more way back in 2012.

Besides this, Gizmodo’s Darren Orf refers to Gilbert’s article adding that

” At first, it seemed that HoloLens was destined to be an Xbox peripheral, or at the very least gaming focused.

Although Microsoft did have a neat (in theory) concept of Minecraft using the headset, the company seems more focused on the HoloLens becoming the next evolution in computing than just an Xbox One add-on.”

via So Long: RadioShack Officially Goes Bankrupt.

If you are interested in further insights into Microsoft’s leaks, read Ben Gilbert’s article here or his original article from 2012 here.

HoloLens & Borderlands

borderlands

nick8807’s Borderlands mock-up for HoloLens

Latitude and creativity without limits – that’s what  Reddit user nick8807 might have thought when he created his own augmented Borderlands mock-up for Xbox One.

“Just an idea I had in my head. Off screen HUD and inventory that dims when your eyes focus on your TV. Rough mock up. Let me know what you guys think.”

via What HoloLens could be like on Xbox One… : xboxone.

Actually the mock-up is very similar to Tadgh Kelly‘s idea of AR used as an augmented screen. The mock-up shows a simplified method to choose weapons and to improve the overview and understanding of the game. In fact, the actual screen would be dedicated 100% to the game world.

Gamingbolt‘s Ravi Sinha thought about similar features adding that

“It’s interesting because it allows you to automatically select weapons from your backpack, listen to custom soundtracks or start a party – all without having to leave the actual game. Though it’s just a mock-up, it represents the potential of HoloLens for commercial games in terms of functionality, ease of use and even custom functionality.”

via Here’s What Microsoft’s HoloLens Could Be Like On Xbox One « GamingBolt.com: Video Game News, Reviews, Previews and Blog.

If you are interested in further comments about the mock-up, have a look at the complete Reddit post here.

Feel free to comment on the mock-up below and tell us what you think about all the ideas!

Holo Everywhere – Atheer developing new AR headset

HoloLens is all over the news. But let’s take a look at another interesting AR solution – Atheer’s AiR Smart Glasses 

atheer

Atheer’s AiR Smart Glasses

The Mountain View-based start-up Atheer regards itself as pioneer in Augmented interactive Reality (AiR™) and proceeds to combine the power of 3D augmented reality with natural interaction. According to Atheer, their AiR platform consists of the AiR Smart Glasses and the AiR OS.

Their new developer kit Air DK2 is available and can be ordered if you want to join the AiR Pilot Program.

 

 

When talking about core competences and how they differ from HoloLens, we have to consider the following aspects:

atheer31. Intuitive Precise Gestures

Build your apps & workflows with enhanced, field-tested gestures to Touch, Tap, Swipe, and Pinch and Zoom for a natural and productive experience.

via Atheer Labs.


2. Head Position Tracking

Access applications and visual content placed anywhere around you with complete ease for natural multitasking and an immersive visual experience.

via Atheer Labs.


3. 2D-3D Application Support

Combine the ease and familiarity of 2D Android app development with the power to display full stereoscopic 3D objects and models, giving your users the best of both worlds.

via Atheer Labs.


atheer34. AiR SDK

Create new experiences leveraging the full-featured AiR OS functionality and expand your existing apps through our simple yet powerful SDK.

via Atheer Labs.


 

Looks very promising so far. Besides this, Gigaom’s Signe Brewster shared an interesting article about Atheer and the  AiR Smart Glasses here. He describes his experiences as follows:

atheer3

                       Atheer CEO Alberto Torres                      Credit: Signe Brewster/Gigaom

“I pinched my fingers to zoom in and out on a 3D model of a heart and swiped through Google Maps. […] A new feature allows you to hold your hands up to make a square, and the headset will automatically take a picture. Many are abilities desperately needed in industries where your hands are too dirty to touch a tablet screen or it is monotonous to log item after item after item.”

via As HoloLens looms, Atheer plans new augmented reality headset — Tech News and Analysis.

All in all the progress in AR  development makes us even more curious. Actually, we have to admit that the use of AR goggles doesn’t seem to be too far from reality.

3D objects vs. holograms

We have already mentioned that HoloLens doesn’t create holograms by itself. The so-called holograms are actually 3D objects made entirely out of light. By using Microsoft’s special goggles, these virtual 3D objects are projected onto our field of vision.

In contrast, researcher Xuewu Xu and some of his colleagues  from Data Storage Institute in Singapore succeeded in developing a method to create “real” holograms.  Engadget’s Felix Knoke shared a German article about the topic here and attempts to get a demo video from Xuewu Xu and his colleagues. Basically, they explain their approach in the following way:

hologram“We propose a new approach to spatiotemporally multiplex sub-holograms and stream hologram data in parallel by using multiple spatial light modulators (SLMs) to increase the spatiotemporal resolution of holographic display system.

With the proposed approach, we have achieved a spatiotemporal resolution of 4.5 × 1010 pixel/s, as compared with 1.89 × 109 pixel/s of a single SLM. Each frame of computer-generated hologram video has a pixel count of 378 Mpixels and is divided into 288 sub-holograms, each of 1.31 Mpixels.

During the playback of holographic video, these sub-holograms are spatiotemporally multiplexed and streamed in parallel to form the integrated hologram within 16.67 ms, which enables full-color holographic video display with a 10-in. diagonal at a hologram data frame rate of 60 frames per second (fps).

New SLM devices with higher spatiotemporal resolution need to be developed in order to meet the data bandwidth requirement of about 1012–1014 pixel/s for future 3D holographic displays.”

via So gehen Hologramme richtig – Engadget Deutschland.

Nevertheless, HoloLens offers a great possibility to blend virtual objects into our physical reality. Even if HoloLens doesn’t create holograms by definition, Microsoft avoids negative connotations connected with AR and establishes best conditions for HoloLens to be accepted by potential customers.

Build – Microsoft’s premier developer conference

build2015

Microsoft’s annual developer conference Build will take place from April 29 to Mai 1, 2015 in The Moscone Center, San Francisco. Techcrunch reported that

Registration opened at 9am PT this morning and the event sold out in less than an hour.

via Update: Microsoft’s Build 2015 Developer Conference Sold Out In Less Than An Hour | TechCrunch.

Not really surprising as we are all interested in having more information about Microsoft’s new development tools and HoloLens.

But don’t throw in the towel if you didn’t get tickets for Build, Microsoft announced officially that it is possible to tune in to live session webcasts. Let’s get ready for Microsoft HoloLens at Build!

Currently the full agenda is not finalized yet, but according to Techcrunch we can expect insights into Windows 10 and other core technologies.

Judging from today’s announcement, the focus of the event will be squarely on Windows 10, which is expected to launch later this year. The Windows 10 Technical Preview is scheduled to expire on April 15, so chances are we will see the first release candidate at Build.

via Update: Microsoft’s Build 2015 Developer Conference Sold Out In Less Than An Hour | TechCrunch.

Watch also Microsoft’s Windows 10 experiences video and find out why you might love Windows 10:

If you like Winodws 10 but won’t be willing to buy another system software for your computer, please note that Microsoft announced to provide a free upgrade for Windows 10

“made available to customers running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 who upgrade in the first year after launch.*”

*Hardware and software requirements apply. No additional charge. Feature availability may vary by device. Some editions excluded. More details at http://www.windows.com.

via The next generation of Windows: Windows 10.

Bill Gates about HoloLens and the future of technology

On January 28, 2015 Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates himself gave an estimate about HoloLens during an Ask Me Anything Chat on Reddit.

bill gates

Bill Gate’s Facebook profile image

The Hololens is pretty amazing. Microsoft has put a lot into the chips and the software. It is the start of virtual reality. Making the device so you don’t get dizzy or nauseous is really hard — the speed of the alignment has to be super super fast. It will take a few years of software applications being built to realize the full promise of this.”

via Hi Reddit, I’m Bill Gates and I’m back for my third AMA. Ask me anything. : IAmA.

That comment leaves us full of hope about the development potential, but also makes clear that many challenges have to be faced before HoloLens is fully operational.

Besides this, Reddit user Future-Turtle asked Bill Gates about Microsoft and the future of technology.

“Hello Mr. Gates,

2015 will mark the 30th anniversary of Microsoft Windows. What do you think the next 30 years holds in terms of tec[h]nology? What will personal computing will look like in 2045?”

Even this question was answered by Bill Gates optimistically as he predicts that

“There will be more progress in the next 30 years than ever. Even in the next 10 problems like vision and speech understanding and translation will be very good. Mechanical robot tasks like picking fruit or moving a hospital patient will be solved. Once computers/robots get to a level of capability where seeing and moving is easy for them then they will be used very extensively.

One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to. The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model – the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices.”

Got interested? For further impressions about Bill Gate’s future vision read Bill Gate’s Annual Letter 2015 or visit his blog here.