If Microsoft has its way, Windows will be all around us, thanks to a brand new augmented reality initiative the company announced today called Windows Holographic.
Alex Kipman from Microsoft’s Operating Systems group announced that every build of Windows 10 will have support for holographic user interfaces that users can interact with in three dimensions. People will be able to see them with new HoloLens headgear that will display augmented reality for its wearers.
HoloLens comes with its own on-board CPU and GPU, along with a new processing chip designed to handle augmented reality. The device also has its own speaker unit, so that users can hear what they’re interacting with in addition to seeing it.
Unlike some virtual reality hardware, HoloLens doesn’t need external cameras or markers in order to function. Users should be able to put it on, and quickly view holograms around them.
Kipman encouraged developers working on virtual reality platforms like the Oculus Rift and Magic Leap to jump over to Windows Holographic and create augmented reality experiences. As a part of the demo, Microsoft showed off a miniature animated version of Operating Systems chief Terry Myerson.
In addition to the developer tools that allow app-makers to build holographic experiences, Microsoft is also launching HoloStudio, a tool that lets people build holographic objects in space around them, and then get them 3D printed.
“Holograms are like print preview for 3D printing,” Kipman said, right before showing off a quadcopter that had been built from a model created in HoloStudio.
The company has lined up a major early user of the hologram technology. Microsoft partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to let scientists control rovers on Mars in augmented reality with Windows Holographic.
Consumers will have to wait to get their hands on the holograms, though. Though Microsoft will be offering members of the press at today’s event a chance to try out HoloLens, the company hasn’t given it a release date or a price yet.