Don’t get me wrong, the Microsoft HoloLens looks pretty damn awesome. From what we’ve seen, it definitely looks like a great piece of tech. But that’s what I want to emphasise; that it looks like a great piece of tech. Because, if there’s one thing that Microsoft have been quite good at over the years, it’s pumping something up to seem more impressive than it may be. For instance, let’s look at the Kinect.
When the Kinect was first being teased, we were being shown some pretty amazing concepts and tech demos. It was being heralded as a piece of tech that could break the boundaries of how we controlled our games. It could track your movements and give you an unrivalled experience – one nearly as immersive as VR is proposing to be. Sadly, though, what we got was a glorified Eye Toy. I’m assuming you remember the Eye Toy… that amazing piece of PlayStation tech which enabled you to interact with games through your body.
In the end, the original Kinect was nothing short of a disappointment, for me at least. The games were clunky, almost as clunky as the tech, but the real disappointment was not necessarily the tech itself – rather, it was the hype that Microsoft had built around it. One of my clearest memories of the Kinect, for example, was the Project Milo videos and showcases. It was this video, from E3 2009, which convinced me to purchased a Kinect. I watched the video in disbelief, as this lady was interacting and conversing with a virtual boy. He was reacting to her gestures, to her words and, supposedly, to her emotions. At the time, I was amazed by the tech, and it sent me wondering as to what the future held for the Kinect, and the Xbox 360. In the end, it held very little – other than Fruit Ninja and the Kinect Sports games… oh, and Dance Central… which I didn’t play whatsoever, in my room, when nobody was looking.
It wasn’t just Milo which has made me sceptical of future Microsoft tech, though. The Kinect in general was a disappointment, and it was on more levels than just a lack of Milo, or Milo like experiences. The Kinect on Xbox One has, much like the original Kinect, lacked support. Sure, it’s great for controlling the One – but that’s as far as it goes. The games, in general, are disappointing, verging on embarrassing. So yeah, in general the Kinect has left a bit of a sour taste for me.
I’ve carried that sour taste for a few years now, and I can almost feel it building up once again when I watch videos like this, of the HoloLens. Yes, that looks incredible. Yes, it’s amazing and YES I would love for it to happen. But is it real? Will something like this ever actually be a reality with HoloLens, or are we just watching a whole lot of fluff? I’m not suggesting that Microsoft have faked this, and further tech demos, because I am aware that Project Milo was real – it just wasn’t supported. And that’s my main concern – that like the Kinect, it’ll just become a bit of a gimmick(ish), until the next big thing comes along and they invest in that instead.