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We found 7 critical HoloLens details that Microsoft hid inside its developer docs

Mark Hachman | March 3, 2016
The resolution, app memory limits, power restrictions, how to remotely control the HoloLens—it's all here.

Microsoft’s documentation also goes into great detail identifying and trying to minimize sources of discomfort for the user, such as prioritizing a steady 60 frames per second to eliminate visual judder and make holograms feel stable. Terms like “jumpiness,” “swim,” and “drift” are all probably going to make their way into our conversation as we discuss augmented reality and virtual reality further. 

2. Microsoft wants you to focus on “holographic density” instead

Ignore the number of pixels, though. When evaluating your Windows Holographic experience, Microsoft would prefer that you focus upon something called “holographic density,” or how bright and beautiful a hologram is. The “holographic resolution” of the HoloLens is 2.3 million “light points,” Microsoft says, with a “holographic density” of 2,500 radiants, or “light points per radian”.

“The key to a great holographic experience is holograms that are light point rich, i.e. have a high holographic density, and are pinned or anchored to the world around you,” Microsoft says on a developer page that a Microsoft spokeswoman highlighted when asked for explanation on what those terms mean. “To achieve this, HoloLens has been designed for optimal holographic density of 2.5K radiants. The more radiants and light points there are, the brighter and richer the holograms become.”

It’s worth noting that the 2.3 million “light points” Microsoft is apparently calculating are more than the available pixels that the HoloLens actually renders, or about 913,000 pixels. Moreover, a hologram (such as an attacking robot) will take up a small portion of the screen. A PC’s 3D card needs to draw everything on the screen. The HoloLens, by contrast, just needs to draw holograms. Otherwise, the user will simply view the real world through its transparent lenses.

That might actually be a sneaky benefit of the HoloLens architecture. While the Rift needs to draw every pixel, the HoloLens many be able to reserve its processing power for where it’s needed most.

3. Holograms will appear only at certain distances

When I’ve used the HoloLens before, I’ve always noticed that holograms only appeared at a certain distance, and disappeared when they moved too close to my eyes. As it turns out, you’ll experience the same effect.

Microsoft believes the best holograms will appear to be about two meters away from the user because, in part, its HoloLens displays are fixed at that optical distance. Move a hologram too close or too far away, and the strain of trying to focus each eye becomes too great, and discomfort sets in. At an apparent distance of one meter, virtual objects rendered by the HoloLens will begin to fade out, and they’ll actually disappear as they close to 0.85 meters away.

Microsoft also explains why the HoloLens field of view has seemingly shrunk as Microsoft has fine-tuned the hardware.


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