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Microsoft HoloLens Field of View is Restricted, Will It Limit Its Impact?

The first time I came across Microsoft HoloLens was when I peaked at a patent of theirs four years ago which showed a holographic projection technology.

I can admit that I laughed at the time, because a very large amount of patents from major technological giants seldom come to fruition. Now, here I am, amazed by this technology in what seems to be the beginning of a new era of computing.

The Oculus Rift set the tempo for games as far as virtual reality is concerned with its much publicized development and application, but HoloLens seems to be subtly different. For one, it doesn’t limit itself to entertainment purposes only like the Oculus or Sony’s Morpheus VR Headset.

Instead, it’s a multi-purpose gadget used to project applications, tools, and variety of other virtual information in the plane of vision. Essentially, it is a more sophisticated version of what Google Glass failed to be.

The headset is a complex product of engineering and innovation, and we already saw its impressive demonstration at Microsoft’s Xbox One show at the E3 2015, which saw it being used to project the Minecraft world onto a regular table.

The verdict should be that Microsoft is developing something that will be a guaranteed success, but critics like myself are actually ‘only’ cautiously optimistic. The reason for this is the field of view, which seems to be rather limited.

The HoloLens hardware itself is deliberately not as big as the Oculus Rift VR, but even with its size it should give a larger field of view than the one that has been experienced by those who have used it hands on.

The video above shows one of the several ways HoloLens could be used other than simply gaming and application use: for studies.

In the video is a more honest depiction of the hardware’s field of view, which seems to be limited to the front and center. Due to the limited space of projection, the holograms often get cut out when a user stands in close proximity to them, which can result in a rather frustrating experience.

Despite the hardware being in alpha stages, the developers suggest that it’s a deliberate ploy so to make sure users are aware of what’s happening in their surroundings, and the field of view in the final design won’t be vastly different from the current.

It makes sense, but it also seems like a cop-out for what could be a design limitation that Microsoft is unwilling to address. With such a limited field of view, one can question the applicability of the HoloLens in everyday use.

For specific tasks (such as study purposes and casual gaming) it would still function wonderfully well, but the real struggle comes when it attempts to compete with the likes of Oculus Rift and Morpheus VR headsets (which have a nearly panoramic field of view compared to the HoloLens) when it comes to more serious gaming and virtual interaction.

HoloLens of course is a profoundly different product than Oculus Rift, but it still stands within the similar set of futuristic gadgets that are attempting to shape the future as far as entertainment and interaction are concerned.

So far, I’ve only heard praises for the HoloLens from whoever has used it, but hopefully Microsoft does address the field of view to attract a much larger set of audience, be it researchers, students, gamers, or any other set of individuals who feel they could use this amazing technology in the best way.