Microsoft, the maker of Xbox, now owns Minecraft, so it wasn’t a surprise that the company used the game and E3 (the video game supershow, aka Electronic Entertainment Expo) as an opportunity to show its HoloLens virtual reality headset.
HoloLens has been in development for some time, and while it’s not yet available to the general public, demonstrations of the device have wowed audiences.
HoloLens goes head-to-head with Oculus VR in the virtual reality space, and has already gotten a hefty developer following, thanks in part to the assumed future compatibility with Xbox One.
How Does HoloLens Work?
Much like Microsoft’s Kinect system, HoloLens maps out a room using infrared and allows app developer tools to assign virtual objects to those spaces. So you can put a video game screen on a refrigerator or wall.
In the E3 demo, a Microsoft spokesperson is wearing HoloLens as he plays Minecraft. The game starts on a wall and then is moved to a nearby table with the voice command, “Create world.” Once on the table, the Minecraft world is moved and manipulated by verbal commands as well as hand gestures.
Players can zoom in, out and around the world using voice commands and use the same commands from the game, such as “Lightning strike,” which causes lighting to explode TNT boxes and open the ground to expose a cache of Minecraft goodies.
The demonstration showed what’s possible for mixing digital media (in this case, games) and real-world spaces.
Developing for the Future
Holographic computing is only a few years away with technology like HoloLens. Many game developers are already learning how to use Oculus VR to make video games. The results will be pretty amazing.
It may look and sound like science fiction, but in reality, it’s science fact. Mixed reality (or “augmented reality”) will also be cropping up in apps and other places like movie theaters and theme parks. The future’s bright, so be sure to bring your virtual reality headset…