Getting real about AR: Magic Leap and the hologram era
The future of computing is not on a screen.
Tech companies are working on having virtual images appear right in front of you, sort of like holograms, think of it as computing in space and you control it with hand gestures or With your voice.
Now this tech goes by a few names, augmented reality or AR for short.
It's also called mixed reality, the blending of real and virtual.
It's a world where anything can appear in the palm of your hand.
But you may need some head gear to make it happen.
What's it going to take for this kind of mixed reality to be our everyday reality?
Let's start with the easy stuff.
Augmented reality is pretty common in social media and mobile gaming.
We've all seen plenty of those silly selfie camera effects.
Pokemon Go had everyone catching cartoon critters around their neighborhood.
You can even see what a furniture looks like in your space before you buy it.
Yeah, let's put that right here.
Mm-hm, looking good.
That's all AR, and it doesn't always look perfect, but phones are getting smarter with processing these effects.
Soon you will see multiplayer AR game In an early demo, we tried with Apple.
We can hold up an iPad to play a slingshot game that looks like it's sitting on the table even though nothing is really there.
But yes, yes, I know.
This is all still on a screen so when will Wega games floating in front of our eyes.
That's a bigger leap, so to speak.
A startup called Magic Leap is now selling a headset That can make it happen.
There's also a headset from Microsoft called Hololense which has been out for longer.
Both are a bit pricey.
That's because they're not really meant for average consumers.
These companies are hoping developers will tinker with the tech to come up with cool apps.
They each have similar effects, but hardware is a bit different.
With Magic Leap One you wear goggles with special tech in the lens and it's tethered to a little computer pack.
That sorta looks like a CD Walkman clipped to your waist.
The goggles do not work with glasses, so folks who wear glasses need to use contacts or order special prescription lenses.
That's not the case with HoloLens.
It works with glasses.
And look ma, no computer pack, no cords.
The HoloLens headset is wireless and fits like a crown with a transparent screen hovering over your eyes.
Both make it seem like computer images are floating in front of you.
And the images look a little transparent, but they can stick to one place so you can move around the object.
You may see these companies share example footage where it looks like an entire room has been transformed around you and you're now living in this amazing virtual hybrid world.
Bu that's not quite the case.
When you put on these headsets, your field of view is limited.
The computer effects don't show up in your peripheral vision.
Now you can only see the holograms straight ahead of you.
It's sort of like looking through a window frame, into a holographic world, where you have to turn your head around to see it all.
This Hololens example footage conveys that idea more clearly.
Hololens has some educational and business application demos.
You can get an anatomy lesson by seeing body parts up close from any angle.
See a building model come to life by putting yourself inside of it.
Learn to make a repair by jumping on a live call and getting guidance on steps to take with real time animation Animations.
Some programmers have even tinkered with life-size video games, like this Super Mario concept we tried out last year.
Careful of the Goombas!
With HoloLens, there are also little cartoon characters that can fly around you.
Or you could just make one fall off your table
Poor little guy.
These headsets have sensors that map out the room to detect walls and objects, making it appear that the virtual things are walking on and around your furniture and you can control it with hand gestures or voice commands.
Developers have shared similar effects from Magically.
In this case, a little rocket man is throwing boulders your way that you have to block and dodge.
And a cartoon car could zip around the walls of a room.
The tech is still in the early stages and it's pretty cool that we're living in a world where all this is possible.
But you are not going to want to spend two or three grand to see little special effects on a head computer until there are more applications.
So is there anything more reasonable that will show up on this planet any time soon?
Here's something for just $200.
Lenovo Star Wars Jedi Challenges.
It's the home budget version of the experience.
The headset is powered by your smartphone and sensors on the ground and in a light saber prob will measure your whereabouts in the Jedi training simulator.
It's the toy world that's bringing this experience home in a more affordable way.
Hasbro has an Iron Man mask called Hero Vision.
It's powered by a smartphone inside the visor, and it scans icons on the glove to create an Avengers training battle game.
It's under 50 bucks.
There are other tech companies exploring this.
The space so we may see things advanced pretty quickly.
There's another company called Leap Motion.
It tracks hand gestures with AR.
It has this open source build it yourself, has it called, Project North Star.
You could see how advanced the software gets even when a hand gets in the middle of it And the company also posted a video showing virtual ping pong and how quickly it will keep up, but its still a bulky head set, we reported that Apple is also working on some head set, but form that will take or if its even coming unknown.
For it to be the future of computing, it needs to be super light to pop on and carry with you anywhere.
Could it be as light as a pair of glasses, like we see in the spy movie Kingsman?
Where holograms appear through a normal looking pair of specs?
Well, maybe it's not total science fiction.
Giants like Google, Samsung, and Sony have been playing with the idea of smart contact lenses.
And they have a few projects It's in the works, but until the tech gets a whole lot lighter and much cheaper we will just have to stick with AR on the device we already own, the phone.
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