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Microsoft HoloLens Vs. Google Glass: No Comparison

Microsoft's HoloLens and Google Glass both are headsets. But with its ability to respond to wearers' voices, hands, and eyes, the HoloLens has a brighter future.

Windows 10: 7 Pressing Questions For Microsoft
Windows 10: 7 Pressing Questions For Microsoft
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Microsoft's HoloLens made a splashy debut at last week's Windows 10 press conference. Observing the wireless demonstration of Windows Holographic was akin to watching a science fiction movie, as its wearer created a model UFO by shifting images around in midair.

Skeptics in the tech world, especially those watching the ever-growing wearables space, acknowledged similarities between the HoloLens and Google Glass, which was recently pulled from the market as Google shut down its Explorer program to further refine its approach to connected eyewear for the consumer audience.

Brian Blau, research director of consumer technology and markets at Gartner, has experience working in the virtual reality space and claims it's "a bit unfair" to compare Google Glass to Microsoft's holographic headgear. Sure, they're similar in the sense that they're both head-mounted displays, but it seems that Microsoft is trying to go down a different road.

"Out of all the head-mounted displays that I've tried in the past couple of decades, the HoloLens was the best in its class," Blau said. "There's a lot of promise for this kind of technology. It's odd to think about, in terms of wearing such an intimate device, but it can provide a lot of very rich information."

Image Source: Microsoft
Image Source: Microsoft

HoloLens could be categorized as a virtual reality (VR) device, as well as an augmented reality (AR) product like Google Glass. It's easy to see how Microsoft's product is more advanced. Its headset recognizes the wearer's vocal communication, eye movement, and hand gestures to help facilitate interaction between the virtual world and the real world.

While HoloLens is designed to project images in midair and on surrounding objects, Glass was designed to perform the functions of a smartphone. Like a phone, Glass could support apps, provide directions, take photos and videos, and perform Internet searches. It didn't offer much functionality that a smartphone doesn't, and as a result consumers perceived Glass as a redundant, more expensive version of their handheld devices.

There is a perception issue with Glass, says Blau.

Google was challenged to appeal to a mass consumer market that perceived its eyewear as high-end wearable technology lacking practical everyday applicability. Its camera, which was considered intrusive, did not help its image. Although Glass's social stigma will fade with time, people aren't yet ready to use such advanced technology for day-to-day tasks, says Blau.

HoloLens, in contrast, seems to have been designed with the enterprise in mind.

"Fundamentally, this type of immersive technology is going to be useful in many different types of businesses," says Blau. Applicability ranges from corporate training to hands-free work environments and remote communication. Although HoloLens also could be used for gaming, personal entertainment, and communication, the implications for business are greater.

[Windows 10: 7 Questions we have for Microsoft]

It's unlikely that Windows Holographic will face the same social stigma that Google Glass did. Right now, Microsoft appears to be focusing more on business-related functionality and gaming with its new creation. It isn't marketing holographic technology as something people will wear in daily life -- nobody will be concerned that a HoloLens is recording him in the local coffee shop.

That isn't to say that security won't be an issue with Windows Holographic. Privacy concerns will arise in time, says Blau, and security will prove a challenge as the HoloLens develops in the months to come.

"Did Microsoft look at the experience that Google had, and try to avoid that? Certainly," Blau notes, but right now the HoloLens is miles ahead of Glass. Will it stay ahead of the wearables game? Only time will tell.

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Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2015 | 3:24:32 AM
Re: Development
@H@mmy

Microsoft will reveal more details on the SDK in Build 2015. You could register or watch the livestream. I take that back, you can not register. It's sold out! Livestream it is then.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2015 | 3:07:21 AM
Re: For the Consumer?
"Holo Lens will obviously cost more than Google Glass, and if Glass was generally too expensive for the consumer, how can Holo Lens succeed in that environment?"

@Gary: I think the price is normally kept high at the start to skim the market and only target tech savvy users who're not that price conscious. Once it becomes a mass product, the production goes up and the price comes down. I don't think Google Glass was withdrawn from the market because the price was too high.
tzubair
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0%
tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2015 | 2:55:08 AM
Re: Development
"I do wonder how much does it cost to set up its infrastructure to work and what strategy microsoft will use to support it."

@Pedro: I think if Microsoft really wants to make it a platform for the masses and does not want to restrict it, it will have to go out and actively support the developers in the initiative. They'd have to heavily incentivize the developers in trying out this platform. This may involve offering the hardware for free or at a subsidized cost. Once there's a sufficient pool of apps to be used, they'd then have to focus on consumers and make them switch to this platform to download content.
RobertoH007
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RobertoH007,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/30/2015 | 2:07:18 AM
Camera is too socially aggressive! Move more slowly...
I wonder if Google (or MSFT in this story) would have more success if they tried to sell consumers on the concept of augmeted reality with a product that excludes the camera. 

This would allow consumers to purchase the device for the "neat" factor and avoid the stygmatic "creep" factor. Cameras can be added when the market is ready in the future, but manufacturers would be allow to establish market share today.

I believe these companies are trying to move the market too quickly in an era where there has been a recent resurgence in concerns over privacy and data security. 
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2015 | 7:44:50 PM
For the Consumer?
Holo Lens will obviously cost more than Google Glass, and if Glass was generally too expensive for the consumer, how can Holo Lens succeed in that environment? And Glass wasn't truly pulled from the market; rather its market has been redefined as the professional user, rather than the consumer.

That's not to say that Halo Lens doesn't sound like an absolutely fabulous idea that will be of great use for professional purposes. Imagine seeing a 3-D tutorial display of whatever it is you are working on! But, like Glass, it will just be way too expensive for mass consumers for the near and medium term future.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2015 | 6:41:42 PM
HoloLens for field tech repair?
I can see HoloLens used by a field technician trying to do a complicated repair. Even though he has a manual, being shown in 3D how to manipulate the object would be stupendous assistance.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2015 | 1:48:11 PM
Re: Development
This is where I think it will have the most application, though I am concerned about whether it will run into problems like the Oculus Rift. It's supposed to be entirely wireless when released and yet we know that causes problems with latency. If it doesn't stream like Microsoft claims too, it will need to have very powerful onboard hardware, which means it will be expensive.

That's going to make it difficult for consumers to get onboard, much like we saw with Google Glass. 

Perhaps a few years from now it will be more viable, but right now I still think Oculus VR has the best chance of giving us virtual (and potentially augmented, with camers) reality, albeit tethered to a PC. 
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2015 | 1:00:04 PM
Re: Development
I think different industries will greatly benefit by Hololens. It can really improve on their work process.  Something that Google glass couldn't do.  I really think that if this technology starts being used by research institutions and students are able to play with it. It gain user support for any future consumer applications in the future.  I do wonder how much does it cost to set up its infrastructure to work and what strategy microsoft will use to support it.
H@mmy
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H@mmy,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2015 | 10:46:30 AM
Development
I just can't wait to get my hands dirty with some sort of app development for HoloLens. It really appeals me more than Google Glass and much more excited to develop something for it and test it.
H@mmy
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H@mmy,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2015 | 10:42:26 AM
standalone
HoloLens does not need a connection to a PC or mobile device to function properly. It can work all alone and this is the key difference between HoloLens and other wearables such as Oculus Rift and Google Glass.
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