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Microsoft's HoloLens can stream Halo 5: Guardians from an Xbox One

Microsoft's HoloLens can stream Halo 5: Guardians from an Xbox One


On a virtual screen floating in a living room

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Microsoft is letting its own HoloLens developers loosen their lips this week by asking them to publish short demonstration clips on Twitter with the hashtag #MadeWithHoloLens. Made up of mostly seven- or eight-second videos, the collection of employee demos posted so far each show off new applications for Microsoft's augmented reality headset. One such demo, from HoloLens program manager Varun Mani, features Xbox One game streaming to a HoloLens headset, with Mani playing Halo 5: Guardians on a virtual screen floating in his living room. Microsoft is also taking app ideas from the public starting today, with the winning idea to get its own HoloLens development team within Microsoft.

The Halo 5 video is janky, but it's a solid indication of what a virtual screen displaying something as complex as a 2015 first-person shooter looks like. As it's been noted in the past, the field of view with HoloLens prototypes is notoriously slim, with virtual images only appearing within a small rectangle of space sitting in front of the wearer's eyes. It's unclear how Mani or any of the other #MadeWithHoloLens participants captured what appears to be a full field of view, and what camera technology Microsoft has its employees using to do so. The company has stressed during live HoloLens demos that it must use a large and expensive-looking camera rig to show viewers what a HoloLens wearer sees.

Gaming is one of the linchpins of augmented and virtual reality

That said, gaming is one of the linchpins of both augmented and virtual reality. Xbox head Phil Spencer said back in January that Microsoft was thinking about the gaming possibilities for HoloLens, both for custom designed software and game streaming from Xbox One consoles like Mani demonstrates here. And in press demos following the HoloLens unveiling that same month, Microsoft showed a Minecraft-inspired game that would allow you to build and explore elaborate pixel cities around a room. The company also designed a HoloLens experience for Halo 5 at this year's E3, though it didn't involve any actual gameplay or game streaming.

While a game custom-built for augmented reality may be a more exciting use of HoloLens' technology, Xbox One game streaming is certainly an expected and anticipated use of AR. Imagine never having to use a physical screen for gaming again, and being able to play games that could stretch to fit your entire living room wall? An Xbox-HoloLens tie-in would also complement Microsoft's partnership with virtual reality leader Oculus VR. The two companies announced in June that Oculus' commercial Rift headset shipping next year would come packaged with an Xbox One controller, and the headset would be able to play Xbox One games on a virtual home theater thanks to Windows 10 integration.