Microsoft just showed off its futuristic augmented reality headset at its E3 press conference on Monday. And it was pretty spectacular.
Microsoft invited Lydia Winters from Mojang, the creator of Minecraft, to demonstrate how gaming works with the Hololens. For those unfamiliar, Minecraft is pretty similar to Legos, but applied to a virtual world: You can create entire worlds and create little blocky players to explore those worlds and collect stuff. You can also visit other people’s worlds. Though it sounds simple, this game is actually incredibly deep, and it’s attracted millions of people from all ages around the world.
During its E3 demo, Microsoft rigged up a camera to the Hololens so the audience could see what the player sees through the headgera. Microsoft brought a presenter from the HoloLens team to play with Winters’ character in Minecraft. Using the Hololens, he can see entire worlds right on this table, even though onlookers would see an empty table.
You can “scroll” around your world just by pinching and dragging.
You can speak commands so the HoloLens can zoom in — but if you lean in with just your face, you can also look inside structures. This elicited a big “wow” from the E3 audience.
When you tell your Hololens to “follow player,” you’ll zoom in on where they are to see what they’re up to. Here’s Winters’ player, as viewed through the Hololens.
But of course, you can always zoom out. And all the views are stunning: You can walk around the table and the 3D light structure will stay intact, as if it were really sitting on your table.
And again, seeing your vast Minecraft world is as simple as pinching and dragging. It’s scrolling for the new generation.
One really cool feature: With the Hololens, you can grab the entire world and lift it up to see what’s underneath. You’ll often find plenty of lava, but also some good loot.
And with the Hololens, if you’re trying to direct another player to your location, you can drop one of these large pins so the other player can easily find it.
With that marker, Winters was able to get her character to the location, drop a ton of TNT, and with the help of the Hololens — a simple vocal cue for a “lightning strike” — the TNT ignited, revealing the previously hidden depths below.
Though Microsoft only showed off one specific application for the Hololens, which isn’t expected to ship to the public for at least another year or more, it was great to see how Hololens can bring your plain old surfaces in your house to life. The company offered no further details on the Hololens’ pricing or shipping, but we’re looking forward to seeing how other games will work with this futuristic computing device, which has the potential to revolutionise personal computing as we know it.