Microsoft promises that its augmented reality headset, HoloLens, won’t repeat the same developmental mistakes of the Xbox’s motion-sensor device, Kinect.
For those fans eager to get their hands on a Microsoft HoloLens headset, the wait may be longer than expected, as the company is taking its time in order to ensure that the device will be as useful as possible upon its availability, and to also avoid the failed post-launch existence of the Kinect. With that in mind, HoloLens creator Alex Kipman won’t reveal a release date for the AR headset until he believes that it is ready to be sold to the general public.
Microsoft has begun selling a HoloLens dev kit priced at $3000 that helps companies to develop software, but interestingly enough, Kipman asserts the product itself is consumer-ready, saying, “There’s nothing development kit-ish about it.” However, before simply dropping it into the marketplace, he believes the HoloLens needs to be more substantial than just a great piece of hardware, as it also needs solid support with plenty of content, explaining:
“When I feel the world is ready, then we will allow normal people to buy it. It could be as soon as we say ‘yes,’ and it could be as long as a ‘very long time.’
“If a consumer bought it today, they would have 12 things to do with it. And they would say ‘Cool, I bought a $3,000 product that I can do 12 things with and now it is collecting dust.'”
Kipman recently backed up his claims of the HoloLens being pretty much complete in terms of the headset itself at a TED conference in Vancouver, by demonstrating some of the various ways the device can be used. During the presentation, the HoloLens creator immersed the stage in a vibrant, fantastical forest, turned the area into the moon, and then Mars. Plus, he even took part in a video conversation with a NASA astronaut who was a block away at the time.
Obviously, the HoloLens has plenty of potential, as further evidenced in our preview of the headset, but Kipman doesn’t want people’s interest for the product to burn out upon release like it did with the Kinect. Although the motion-sensor device made it into the Guinness Book of World Records by destroying sales records with 10 million units sold in 60 days, Kipman described fans’ waning enthusiasm for the Kinect as a disheartening occurrence, saying, “It was not a pleasant experience.” Surely, he doesn’t want to go through that again.
Although HoloLens has competition in Meta’s augmented reality headset and the Google-backed Magic Leap — both of which could go on sale before Microsoft’s AR device — Kipman is willing to exercise patience in order to make his product as perfect as possible, saying, “I’m in no rush,” which is the best mentality to have during the creative and developmental process. Furthermore, considering the fact that virtual and augmented reality tools are a burgeoning market, and with some already believing the kits to be too expensive, Microsoft is on the right track in showing self-restraint in order to make the HoloLens more than just a novelty.
Microsoft’s HoloLens is currently without an official release date.