HoloLens might be fun as an augmented reality gimmick, but Microsoft clearly knows that without software the fancy headset will die in short order. The company has put a call out among academics to come up with potential applications for holographic computing, whether that be novel teaching methods, building art installations that bridge the real and the virtual, or new opportunities to get inside big data. To sweeten the proposal, meanwhile, Microsoft is looking to hand out ten HoloLens prototypes and a total of $500,000 among five universities.
The company will pick five research groups, each getting a pair of headsets and $100,000 to pump into new and intriguing uses to give AR some serious academic chops.
Microsoft is casting its net wide when it comes to proposals. Among the possible fields are domain—data visualization, ways to communicate with teams that are geographically spread, and different ways of delivering teaching in science, technology, engineering, and mathmatics.
At the same time, other potential applications could include interactive art and experimental media, Microsoft says, as well as psychology applications, such as exploring how future computer interfaces might evolve.
Whether academics rise to the HoloLens possibilities in the same way that gamers do remains to be seen. Microsoft demonstrated a Minecraft game back at E3 2015 a few months ago, for instance, in which the wearer of the headset could effectively fill their real environment with virtual building bricks.
However, the technical limitations HoloLens faces remain, including the relatively small field of digital view we observed when we tested out the headset ourselves.
Microsoft is yet to give a potential release window for its augmented reality project, nor suggest how much the headset could end up costing.