Microsoft's HoloLens headset has surprised the world in recent months thanks to its impressive use of augmented reality. While an initial demo of developer hardware back in January left us amazed and intrigued about the possibilities for HoloLens, subsequent demonstrations of near-final hardware have one big problem: field of view. I've used both versions of HoloLens (the dev unit and headset model) and there's a big difference between the two. The demo back in January (with dev hardware) was a lot more immersive, but the unit I tried on my head back in April was disappointing. Instead of being immersed, it's like looking through a letterbox.
"I wouldn't say it's going to be hugely noticeably different either."
Microsoft is aware of the issues and feedback. During an appearance at Giant Bomb live during E3, Microsoft executive Kudo Tsunoda provided an insight into the company's thoughts on the feedback. "The hardware isn't final so none of the things are completely done," says Tsunoda, who works on HoloLens and brought Kinect to life at Microsoft. "I think you're never going to get to full peripheral field of view, but certainly the hardware we have the field of view isn't exactly final. But I wouldn't say it's going to be hugely noticeably different either."
If Microsoft isn't planning to drastically improve its HoloLens field of view, then that's not good news for the headset's initial prospects. It's a widespread complaint amongst those who have used the headset both at Build and E3, and Microsoft's response suggests very little is going to change. While it's never going to be as immersive as virtual reality, the clipping on HoloLens distracts from the experience and the illusion is lost as a result. It's still not clear when Microsoft plans to launch its HoloLens headset, or why the company can't improve the field of view "hugely noticeably." The hardware shown recently at E3 is near the final stages, which suggests Microsoft may be ready to launch HoloLens a lot earlier than many expect.
E3 2015: The HoloLens