Smartphones are an absolute staple in modern society, and have been since the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007. We use them to stay connected to one another and to the vast well of information known as the internet. But mostly, we use them for social media ? Smartphones replaced the need to have a phone installed at your home, or to have a computer in order to go online or send email. They improved how entertainment was consumed by the masses, and removed the need to carry around a camera with several rolls of film. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact they’ve had on our lives.
As technology advances it provides us with new and innovative ways to interact with the already familiar. It can impact objects we didn’t realize needed improvement. Ring showed us that our doorbells could be better, and they took a device that has not changed much since its inception in 1831 and made it new again over 180-years later! This wave of modernization has been replacing many items over the past two decades, but what about smartphones? Aside from hardware enhancements they really haven’t changed all that much since they came to be. Mostly because the design works. But what about their limitations? They still require manual interaction (for the most part), and keep your head tilted down causing you to miss out on what’s happening around you. Or taking your attention from important things…like driving. So what’s to be done?
Fortunately, we have a savior on the horizon, and it will take the benefits of smartphones to the next level, while removing a lot of the problems that cannot be designed out of them. Mixed Reality. A mixed reality headset will provide you with the ability to communicate in a much more efficient way, while allowing you to stay tethered to the actual reality around you. And the leader of this revolution is the tech-giant, Microsoft. The HoloLens 2 headset fits like a headband with glasses. And the glasses are where the magic happens. This technology can detect the world around you and “mix” high-resolution holograms into it. With the HoloLens 2 you use natural gestures to interact with what you see such as grabbing, pushing, or pulling. It can detect individual finger movement which allows precise interactions. But that’s not all, it can also detect eye-movement and position! Allowing you to perform actions such as scrolling pages using just your eyes.
The biggest difference between Mixed Reality and modern VR (Virtual Reality) headsets such as the Oculus and Vive is that they do not take you out of the real world. VR headset block off your vision to provide you an escape, while MR headsets enhance the world around you. VR is also different in that it needs cameras setup around a room to detect your position and movements. Keeping you trapped inside and confined to a powerful computer. The HoloLens can go anywhere you go. The computer is built right in and it has outward facing cameras that are used for global positioning and is able to identify items such as furniture, people, walls, buildings, and of course, your hands.
It is currently being designed for commercial use, but consumer use is definitely coming soon. Many speculate this type of technology to begin replacing smartphones by 2022, and to become the new “norm” by 2024. That’s only 5-years away from the time of this post and we are very excited to see how drastically it changes our social landscape. Imagine having to drive home in a bad storm with low-visibility, but instead of panicking you put on your HoloLens and the path home is illuminated in your glasses, allowing you to get home safely. What if a surgeon is performing a high-risk laparoscopic surgery (internal surgery that uses a camera attached to the tools) and needs to keep an eye on her patient, their vital signs, and the screen being used to display the internal process? They can put on a HoloLens and have access to all of that information in one convenient location. This technology will not only improve our communicative abilities, it will solve problems we didn’t realize we had, and best of all, it will help save lives.
This is fascinating tech and we’re very excited to see it become as common as smartphones are today. Please watch the linked video below for more information on the HoloLens. What are your thoughts? Do you feel smartphones can be replaced by this type of technology? We’re interested in what you have to say.