Microsoft Preps Living Rooms For The Future

Yesterday Microsoft held a press event to show off Windows 10. On the surface, there’s not a ton of gaming news that was expected to come out of the show. Even from a PC front, there really wasn’t much to look forward to, aside from some more details on Direct X 12. That said, there were two big points that I think warrant a little bit of discussion on today.

Windows 10 Logo

First, Microsoft announced Xbox One to Windows 10 PC streaming. The specifics are still a little muddy, like whether the streaming has to be done within a single network – like Home Sharing; or if the streaming can go the other way. Either way, it’s a pretty predictable step – Microsoft has been trying to present the idea of a connected world with all devices working in tandem for a few years now. It’s integral to the Xbox One design – TV, cable, gaming and web are all rolled into one console. This is just them taking that design, and applying it across a whole house, not just the living room. Add in that the Xbox One Game DVR works while streaming PC play too, and you have basically all the features that Microsoft has been pushing for the One available (Windows has had a snap-like feature since Windows 7). It’s hard to know exactly how much use this feature is going to have, but it is a nice convenience factor.

Microsoft HoloLens

The other announcement is the Microsoft HoloLens – the first in-home hologram projector that is wearable. I’m sure it’s going to be overly expensive, but man, that first commercial that shows off some of the uses makes it look pretty damn cool. From a work standpoint, the ability to project out those projects you’re working on to show the room is pretty unreal. For design industry people, that’s a super important part of every project – making little changes on the fly and showing them in real time streamlines the whole effort. As of right now the design of the HoloLens itself is a little bulky – but then this is the first real generation of consumer holograms. Over the next few years I think we’ll see it slim down a bit. From a gaming perspective though, the potential is pretty mind blowing. The TV itself is no longer the bounds of your screen. Environments can jump to life in your living room – tailored to whatever size room you’re playing in. But for me, the craziest application has to be how they show Minecraft being used with HoloLens. Again, it’s hard to really tell for sure, but it looks like loading Minecraft up with HoloLens turns your entire room into your Minecraft world. It’s the next logical step for a game that is essentially LEGOs. You now can play with your virtual LEGOs in the exact same way that you play with your physical LEGOs. Want to create a massive lair on your couch, complete with a lava-fall for your hero to assail? Go for it – it’s right there at your finger tips. Have kids that want to turn your living room into their own personal fantasy land, but don’t really want to turn your living room into a giant mess? Have no fear, HoloLens is here. The potential is insane – and really could be a game changer. Imagine how awesome it would be to take the way Minecraft behaves with HoloLens, and have an official LEGO product. You could use the actual LEGO bricks, going all the way back in their back catalog to create whatever you want. Tie in the connected world we live in, and I really don’t see any reason why those creations couldn’t turn into custom ordered LEGO kits. The sky is the limit.

Minecraft HoloLens

I don’t want to sound like I’m immediately on the HoloLens express here. I think it’s a really cool idea, with some super useful and fun uses; and the potential is unreal. But I also don’t think it’s going to be at that level day one. New tech like this always has growing pains – it’s part of being ahead of the curve, putting up with the quirks. With current-gen consoles, it’s been the issues with having always online connections. HoloLens will have similar issues – what those will exactly be I can’t say for sure. At the end of the day though, it’s a huge step forward, and I think could end up being a bit of a catalyst for affordable, in-home hologram tech for consumers.