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Microsoft's HoloLens brings you inside a gigantic jet engine

Augmented reality makes a jet engine light enough to lift with a finger, and portable enough to take anywhere.

Microsoft's HoloLens could make learning about machines like jet engines more interactive.

Microsoft

Many people spent the weekend getting acquainted with augmented reality, the fusing of the digital and physical world, through the popular new Pokemon Go app that lets users see fictitious creatures hanging out in the real world through a phone screen.

But augmented reality, also referred to as mixed reality, can have more practical applications like training.

That's exactly what Microsoft was pushing for at its Worldwide Partner Conference on Monday. Presenters at the Toronto event used Microsoft's heavily hyped HoloLens to bring a digital representation of a jet engine on stage to show how Japan Airlines intends to use the technology to train flight crews and mechanics.

"We can continue to learn in new ways, not possible in the real world," said Lorraine Bardeen, general manager of Windows and HoloLens experiences production and strategy for Microsoft.

Augmented reality, alongside its sibling virtual reality, is one of the hottest trends in technology. Major players such as Microsoft and Google have experimented with both technologies as a potential new way for people to view the digital and real worlds, with potential applications in gaming and entertainment, as well as in the workplace.

Microsoft has wowed audiences before with its HoloLens demonstrations. But aside from a developer model that costs $3,000, there hasn't been word on when the average consumer can buy one.

For now, interested consumers will have to rely on these demos for a taste of the HoloLens experience. On Monday, that meant taking a giant jet engine and expanding it from tabletop size to actual size for the purposes of learning about how the engine works, how it might have been recently updated or the hazardous spots where you shouldn't stand.

Having an interactive, 3D model of something like a jet engine could supplement materials like manuals. It could also help when the actual equipment is unavailable.

"Any company that needs to train and develop their employees, and any partner who helps companies with professional training has a big opportunity," Bardeen said. "You will be at the forefront of the next major computing platform."