In addition to announcing its latest Windows 10 operating system, this week tech giant Microsoft also unveiled HoloLens, a wearable device that allows users to watch television without a television, play video games without a controller and, potentially, design a new car. The HoloLens covers a user's entire field of view, but unlike virtual-reality headsets like Oculus Rift, the transparent screen still shows what's actually around them. So while it doesn't actually project holograms, the HoloLens is designed to offer a literal augmented-reality experience that overlays projections on top of the real world.
What does that have to do with cars? Microsoft suggests the HoloLens could be a useful design tool, allowing designers to see what they're working on in three dimensions without having to build a physical model. That also makes it easier to show ideas to colleagues and bosses, who simply have to put on a headset to do a walkaround of the virtual model.
That flexibility could make virtual or augmented-reality interfaces attractive to carmakers as the technology develops. The Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] has a lab that allows designers to examine full-size virtual mockups of cars, even allowing people on different continents to look at the same projection.
Jalopnik also sees it as a potential aid to home mechanics, who could identify parts and diagnose problems just by looking at them. That's assuming automakers make detailed digital documentation available, though.
Don't expect HoloLens to become a fixture of garages and design studios just yet, though. Microsoft hasn't discussed any production plans, and the headsets themselves reportedly still have some bugs that need to be addressed.