Google Glass vs Microsoft’s HoloLens headset


At the end of April, Microsoft wowed developers and the media with yet another demo of its new HoloLens headset.

The headset was announced alongside other new features offered as part of Windows 10, including DirectX 12, Cortana voice control, and more XBox games coming to PC.

The HoloLens is essentially a computer you wear on your face. But instead of interacting through a keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen, the HoloLens projects 3-D images in front of you that you can reach out and touch. And based on the demos we’ve seen so far, it looks really cool.

Microsoft is far from being the first big tech company to explore the idea of computers that we wear in front of our eyes. Google unveiled Google Glass back in 2012 — a head-mounted computer that’s a lot smaller than HoloLens and doesn’t project images in 3-D.

But the device never really took off, and Google has yet to officially release a version of the gadget for everyday consumers. Now, reports suggest that Google is pivoting Glass to focus solely on enterprise and industrial-use cases, rather than as a cool gadget for adventurous early adopters.

Facebook is also heavily invested in the Oculus Rift; it bought Oculus VR for $2 billion in March 2014.

Although Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are all making big bets on computerized eyewear (even Snapchat bought a Google Glass-like startup, Vergence Labs), there are significant hurdles to address. Not only do you have to create something so incredible that people will be compelled to strap it to their faces, but Glass was slammed by privacy advocates too.

We talked to a few people who worked on Google Glass to get their thoughts on the HoloLens and what it would take to make these kinds of devices succeed.

Here’s the gist of what they said:

  • People still aren’t comfortable wearing these things in public. One of the biggest hurdles with wearable displays is that they don’t look natural — Google Glass and the current version of the HoloLens both look like computers strapped to your face rather than eyeglasses or sunglasses. “I think people in general will be uncomfortable with it for now just because it brings attention to them, and sometimes people don’t like that attention,” Beau Hanley, who worked as a marketing specialist for Google X until December, told Business Insider.
  • Microsoft should have learned its lesson from Google. Based on recent reports, it seems like Google has been rethinking its strategy regarding Glass. One former Googler thinks Microsoft should have picked up on this. “I’m fascinated that Microsoft has not learned the lesson that Google spent so much money teaching the world,” Margot Boyer-Dry, head of marketing at Poncho who previously worked in marketing and business development for Google Glass, said. “They had a massive case study sitting right in front of them.”

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