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Microsoft’s new HoloLens looks to up customer experience with holograms


Redmond, Wash. – As part of its Windows 10 OS announcement earlier this week, Microsoft Corp. revealed it will be releasing a new holographic computer system called HoloLens that may offer retailers some interesting new ways to deliver an enhanced, seamless customer experience. HoloLens features see-through, holographic, high-definition lenses and spatial sound so users can see and hear holograms in the physical world around them.

HoloLens differs from virtual reality systems like the Samsung Gear VR headset, or connected eyewear like Google Glass (which Google will no longer support, at least in its current iteration), in that it layers interactive 3-D holograms on top of the user’s physical surroundings. Thus HoloLens is an augmented reality system.

HoloLens users will be able to create, shape and alter holograms, and also “pin” them to real objects so they stay connected in the user’s visual environment. Users will be able to share holograms and see things from another user’s viewpoint. Holograms will also be printable via 3D printer.

Microsoft HoloLens runs on Windows 10, and developers will be able to build HoloLens apps on the standard Windows 10 platform.

Microsoft is focusing on the possibilities HoloLens offers for research & development, as well as for uses such as virtual exploration of other planets. However, it is easy to envision retailers developing apps that allow HoloLens users to obtain extra product information in the store (holograms can include videos), engage in very lifelike virtual dressing room and social shopping activities, or even virtually reproduce a physical store environment in their home.

HoloLens is expected to hit the market in late 2015 when Windows 10 is put into general release, so it will be a while before the retail industry determines whether and how it will put HoloLens to use. But this is another example of rapid developments in consumer technology that retailers need to keep pace with, if not ahead.

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