Welcome to Mixed Reality: Q&As on the Microsoft HoloLens:
As the first and only reseller of Microsoft HoloLens in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Bechtle offers a full consulting service for using mixed reality headsets in businesses. We address the most important questions and answers in our interview with Andreas Ebing, Head of New Business Development at HCV Data Management.
Andreas Ebing, Head of New Business Development at HCV Data Management.
HCV provides Microsoft HoloLens consultation, starter workshops, and customer solutions.
How does Microsoft HoloLens stand out from other virtual and augmented reality solutions?
HoloLens is a self-contained computer that runs Windows 10, meaning you’re not connected to any other equipment and can move about freely. Other VR products, on the other hand, are dependent on separate computers that produce the images the headsets project.
In addition, HoloLens is aware of its surroundings just like that, enabling it to display information and objects directly in your real field of vision—which makes for quite an effect. AR goggles, however, depict objects on the display, and can only recognise rooms if they’ve been fitted with sensors.
And we haven’t even mentioned HoloLens’ gesture control, which allows you to interact with and zoom in on objects (see videos below). VR and AR goggles can only do this with the aid of separate controllers or buttons. In short: from a technological point of view, no other solution on the market comes close.
Virtual, augmented and now mixed reality – what does that even mean?
The term “mixed reality” was coined by Microsoft and refers to a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality. In virtual reality, you see an entirely virtual room through your VR glasses, totally disconnected from your actual surroundings. Examples of this are Samsung Gear and HTC Vive.
Mixed reality, then, is a combination of both virtual and augmented reality—you can move about and see virtual objects in the real world, such as a hologram of a car engine on your desk.
So what does it feel like?
I’ve not seen anyone try it who wasn’t impressed. Even our customers who are familiar with VR are fascinated—especially with the image quality. And there are no negative physical side effects such as nausea, because you’re simply moving around your normal environment.
In terms of wearing the HoloLens, it’s similar to wearing a cycle helmet. The back of the headset features a little wheel that enables you to loosen or tighten the fit. You wouldn’t want to wear it all the time, but for short periods—the battery lasts two up to three hours —it’s comfortable.
What are some popular use cases?
We're mostly approached by customers who work in an industrial setting and are looking to enhance technical tasks. For instance, a field service technician may carry a HoloLens instead of a laptop. That way, they can have access to all the information they need while having both their hands free to work. And because HoloLens is Wi-Fi-enabled, they can simply call a remote colleague who in turn can see on their display what the on-site technician is seeing, too.
Have you encountered any unusual requirements?
Indeed I have. For instance, there’s a customer who wants to equip their sales representatives abroad with a combination of HoloLens and the Cortona voice assistant. The goal is for the headset to help bridge language barriers with translation support. I’m sure we’ll see a whole lot of innovative use cases in the future. We’re just at the beginning. (See more use cases in the videos below.)
How do you expect demand to develop?
Bechtle’s product management informs me that we sold HoloLenses even before they were officially announced on 23 November 2017 and we currently have several key accounts piloting 200+ units. Since 1 December, Microsoft’s European stores are linking customers to Bechtle as their Commercial Partner. I’m certain that this will put us in touch with many new customers. In addition, the leasing and rental options available make HoloLens accessible to a broad range of different customers. Considering our diverse partner ecosystem and new training and workshop opportunities for both Bechtle employees and customers, we're confident that we will cover a lot of ground fast. For 2018, we expect to see demand rise significantly throughout Europe.
Using HoloLens generates massive amounts of data. How can this be kept secure?
Like any other mobile device, HoloLens can be integrated with corporate Mobile Device Management and data can be stored either in the cloud or on HoloLens itself. In terms of security, HoloLens is no different from a regular office computer.