It’s a bit inaccurate to include the HoloLens in a feature about VR peripherals because it is a) not a VR device, and b) not a peripheral. It’s a “mixed-reality” headset that uses a complex and expensive array of custom-made chips, sensors, and projectors to superimpose holographic images on the environment around you. Interacting with projected images is achieved with gaze, voice, and tap commands, the latter being the real-world equivalent of a mouse click.
The potential commercial, artistic, and educational applications of this technology are obvious and exciting, but gaming remains something of an open question. The E3 2015 Minecraft demo was an impressive piece of theatre but an unconvincing demonstration. It’s one thing to look at the cool 3D hologram projected on your tabletop, quite another to meaningfully interact with it – and it’s with the latter that HoloLens evidently struggles. Are you willing to pay $3000 for what amounts to a really cool display? Is anyone?
We’ll have to wait and see. Beyond the ability to stream games onto a virtual TV, it isn’t clear how the HoloLens will interact with the Xbox One. What is clear is that, with the Kinect dead and buried, Microsoft needs something to distinguish the One from its competitors, and – being the only mixed reality headset on the market – the HoloLens would do just that. Making it affordable, though? That’s another question altogether.