Microsoft’s HoloLens AR Robot is Cute and Very Exciting

Microsoft has released more tantalizing hints about how its HoloLens system can be used at the Build 2015 conference, with a heavy emphasis on innovative VR.

When Microsoft took the stage for the keynote address, the speakers did not come alone. A small, wheeled contraption with a mounted camera followed. It was an ugly, stick-like thing that looked suitable for inspecting Martian rocks and not much else…until the team showed what it looked like with a HoloLens visor on.

You can watch the video for a better idea, but essentially HoloLens transformed the robot but adding an upper half with arms, a face, a personality, and plenty of different ways to interact in a virtual reality setting.

The demonstration was mostly about the ways a user can interact with something that is partly a real object equipped with sensors, and partly a digital construct – something Microsoft called mixed reality. The robot, with a foot in both worlds, was capable of wandering around the stage, moving out of the way instead of running into a person, and generally looking as lovable as possible.

Microsoft took the example to another level by showing the user open up a VR control panel and tinker around with robot settings, which in turn changed real-world factors like the color of the robot’s lights, as well as giving real time data on the robot’s performance.

Again, HoloLens seems to shine when it comes to commercial uses, like concept development, engineering, and high-level exploration or collaboration. But Microsoft is leaving this system as open-ended as possible. Remember, this is the Build Conference: The goal is to encourage other developers to get more inventive using the latest tools (here, the latest tools are Windows 10 and Raspberry Pi). Perhaps we will see some more consumer-friendly examples before the year is up.

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Tyler Lacoma

When he isn't enjoying the beautiful Northwest outdoors, you can find Tyler on business and tech sites, writing about the latest news, analyzing trends, and generally making the Internet a more interesting place.

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