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E3 2015: Microsoft Hololens Might Not be as Magical as You Think

by Kyle Hanson

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Microsoft has been making a lot of big promises in regards to their HoloLens augmented reality headset. Bombastic demos and videos show the glasses warping the world around you, shaping it into a virtual landscape, ripe for manipulation. However, if the Halo 5: Guardians E3 Experience is anything to go by, prospective buyers will need to readjust their expectations, or risk massive disappointment.

The first thing to get out of the way is to say that the demos shown so far could be a bit misleading. The idea they present is that the lenses totally envelop your vision, changing your entire viewpoint into an augmented reality arena.

The truth though is that the current iteration of the HoloLens simply has a small rectangular area in the middle of the lenses, through which the world can be altered. It’s a bit like if you took your phone and held it a half arm’s length from your face in terms of size.

The area around this screen looks completely normal. In fact, if you shift your viewpoint around you end up cutting off portions of the AR experience. In order to properly view something I had to stand at a certain distance and look at the exact right angle, lest the top or bottom get cut off and the image disappear into nothingness.

That image was actually pretty impressive, to be fair. I watched as checkpoints hovered in front of me, making my world feel that much closer to the Master Chief’s that I was hoping to experience.

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My group was ushered into a briefing room, where Spartan Palmer gave us a rundown of Halo 5: Guardians’ new multiplayer mode, Warzone. You can check out all the details of this new gamemode here.

The image of the Spartan hovered in front of me, perfectly aligned with the table. It truly appeared to be a hologram, floating in the air with 3D precision. Moving, tilting, or otherwise shifting my vision didn’t cause any issues, aside from the aforementioned small viewing window.

HoloLens isn’t a finished product though, so this could easily change during development. However, they seem to feel confident showing it to the public in its current state, and didn’t mention that these were prototypes of any sort.

It’s not necessarily that HoloLens is even that bad, in fact it would have been amazing to me had the demos not oversold it so much. But this is the key point, as Microsoft continues to show astounding videos that make it look like a true game-changer. If it remains in its current state though, it could end up disappointing many.

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