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.

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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.

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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.


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