Styled less like a piece of hardware and more like functional fashion, the Microsoft Holo Glasses are redemption for exactly how geeky Google’s glasses were in 2013. They scale down Microsoft’s existing Hololens 2 technology into a slim wearable that fits comfortably on your face, and comes with snap-on frames that allow you to swap styles in a hot minute!
The Holo Glasses are a wearable concept that takes Microsoft’s AR chops and makes them consumer-friendly again. Now, I love Microsoft as a company. Satya Nadella’s done wonders by taking it to the trillion dollar club, and Microsoft’s acquisitions of LinkedIn, Github, and Activision Blizzard are a great example of Nadella’s vision for the company… but at the same time, aside from their gaming business, Microsoft’s entirely an enterprise-focused company. They surrendered the smartphone war by bidding adieu to Nokia, and they even took Hololens 2 and turned it into more of a business solution than a consumer gadget. The Holo Glasses, however, make the company cool again!
Designer: Misneok Kim
Schematically, the glasses are pretty much like the Hololens, with cameras and sensors that help with object and spatial tracking, and lenses in front of the eye that help reflect images into the retina. Like the Hololens 2, the Holo Glasses let you see what’s ahead of you too, giving you a mixed reality experience that only a handful of companies have been able to deliver on… although we’re still expecting Apple to launch their AR glasses shortly too!
As is evident in the image below, the Holo Glasses are designed in two parts – the first being the hardware that sits on your face, and the second being a set of magnetic frames that snap onto the glasses, giving them their fashion-forward look. The frames add the aesthetic appeal to the Holo Glasses while the visors on the actual wearable deal with reflecting visuals to your eye. This dual-glass setup can be seen in many other AR headsets, although what this concept does is slim the contraption down to a level where tech and fashion can coexist harmoniously.
These snap-on frames come in a variety of colors and shapes, giving wearers the freedom to choose their ‘look’. You can simply swap out fascias to alter the appearance of your Holo Glasses, and there’s even the option of getting prescription lenses built into the snap-on frames, allowing people with spectacles to wear the Holo Glasses too!
On paper, the Holo Glasses are a pretty nifty concept. They make Microsoft’s existing tech even better and more democratized, so regular users can access game-changing AR technology without breaking the bank. The glasses can be operated by voice or by buttons and touch-sensitive surfaces on the temple stems. Each Holo Glass also comes with bone-conducting audio units built into the ends, delivering audio directly to the wearer without needing to wear earphones. Ultimately, when not worn, the Holo Glasses can be carried around in their spectacle cases, which also double as charging docks for the wearables.
Unfortunately though, the very idea of Microsoft making such a device seems rather unlikely. It would require creating a separate OS channel, renewed hardware efforts, but most importantly, it would bring little value to the company. Google and Apple have a vast ecosystem of products and services to offer through their devices – Maps, Mail, Messages, Social Networking, etc. Microsoft has none, creating little impetus for the company to spend that kind of capital and effort to build out a range of AR headsets. It’s fun to imagine, though, what such Holo Glasses would look like! Maybe this concept will help prime us for what Apple plans on launching in the next couple of years!