Microsoft reveals Windows Holographic, HoloLens headset

Victor Barreiro Jr.
Microsoft unveils its own in-development hologram technology, along with a team-up with NASA to let people virtually work on Mars
HOLOLENS. A screen view from OnSight, a software tool developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in collaboration with Microsoft. OnSight uses real rover data to create a 3-D simulation of the Martian environment where mission scientists can "meet" to discuss rover operations. Image from NASA/JPL-Caltech

MANILA, Philippines – Microsoft revealed Wednesday, January 21 (January 22 Manila time) that it was developing an augmented reality experience it called Windows Holographic, as well as the first headset that will support Windows Holographic, called the HoloLens.

Using the HoloLens headset computer, Microsoft aims to add holograms to the world around a user without the need for wires or a connection to a PC or a phone.

The Verge quotes Microsoft as saying that the HoloLens is the “most advanced holographic computer the world has ever seen,” sporting self-contained computing – including a central processing unit (CPU), a graphics processing unit, and its own dedicated holographic processor.

Aside from seeing the holograms, the visor adds spatial sound to allow people to hear a hologram behind them. The HoloLens also comes with its own integrated motion and environmental sensors.

NASA added that that is developing software for use with the HoloLens in a team-up with Microsoft, with the project – called OnSight – enabling scientists to work virtually on Mars.

Dave Lavery, program executive for the Mars Science Laboratory mission at NASA Headquarters in Washington, noted, “OnSight gives our rover scientists the ability to walk around and explore Mars right from their offices.”

He added, “It fundamentally changes our perception of Mars, and how we understand the Mars environment surrounding the rover.”

An early hands-on with the project at Wired noted that HoloLens’ realistic holograms worked “by tricking your brain into seeing light as matter.”

The HoloLens’ chief inventor, Alex Kipman, noted that to create the holograms and project the images, “When you get the light to be at the exact angle,” Kipman tells me, “that’s where all the magic comes in.”

The HoloLens’s so-called light engine bounces the light particles around millions of times. The photons enter the goggles’ two lenses, then bounce off blue, green, and red glass before reaching the back of the human eye to depict the imagery. –

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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.