The HoloLens will be as revolutionary as the iPhone

The Microsoft HoloLens blends holograms with physical reality to create a mixed world. (Image courtesy of Microsoft)
The Microsoft HoloLens blends holograms with physical reality to create a mixed world. (Image courtesy of Microsoft)

Last week, Microsoft introduced the HoloLens, a system that has the potential to revolutionize how humans use computers. I say it can become as influential as Apple’s iPhone.

Described simply, the Microsoft HoloLens is a pair of goggles that lets you view and interact with 3-dimensional holograms. But that’s about as accurate as saying the iPhone is an iPod, phone and internet communications device. That’s how Steve Jobs described the iPhone when he announced it in 2007.

Eight years later, we see that Apple’s innovation – along with Google’s Android platform – is much more than that. It has transformed our lives. We now walk around with devices that we use to take pictures, share moments, make payments, read news, etc.

The iPhone shoved digital tools into our pockets. The HoloLens unleashes virtual tools into our physical world:

  • The iPhone played movies on a miniature screen. The HoleLens throws Netflix onto any wall.
  • The iPhone tossed angry birds into our pocket. The HoloLens transforms our living room into a Minecraft landscape.
  • The iPhone gave us the power to design on the go. The HoloLens projects our virtual designs onto real-wold objects.

When the iPhone was launched, it was different than smartphones before it, from its “real web” browser to its touchscreen that worked with human fingers instead of a stylus. Microsoft’s device is also different from similar technologies on the market today.

  • Where the Oculus Rift immerses you in a “virtual reality,” the HoloLens blends virtual objects with the real world. It forms a sort of enhanced reality.
  • Where Google Glass and Apple Watch rely heavily on a mobile phone, the HoloLens works independently.
  • Where 3D projectors show movies in a public theater, the HoloLens projects interactive objects to an audience of one.

But what happens if Microsoft’s efforts prove fruitless and the HoloLens fades into obscurity like so many other failed technologies? I’m convinced that this is just the right mix of augmented and virtual reality, and the idea will be adopted by other tech giants and startups. But maybe my enthusiasm is misplaced, especially since I haven’t even had a chance to see the HoloLens in real life.

What do you think? Is my excitement warranted? Will this technology be as revolutionary as I imagine?