microsoft hololens for 3D printing




January 24, 2015

(ED NOTE: What relevance does this tech have to do with Medicine?  Elementary,  my dear Watson.  I believe it will have a place in Medical education and Medical Business.  For education, it will allow for surgical simulation situations.  For Medical Business, it will allow for remote demonstrations of Medical Devices, in Google Hangouts, without going to a Medical Convention floor.)

History tells us that innovation happens when multiple technological trends collide and the HoloLens seems to be doing just that. It is not just a pair of goggles as much as it is a complete stand-alone computing system, with a CPU and GPU. The team behind it humbly describes it as the “personal computer of the future” and the best part about it is that it should be available in a “Windows 10 timeframe”.


On 3DPI we have often covered AR systems which can help the user get a more intuitive approach to 3D modeling items for 3D printing. This is something that is already happening at the higher levels of corporate R&D; even Space X’s Elon Musk once said that he prototypes rocket parts on an AR 3D visualizer to be laser sintered on a 3D printer.

As much as Microsoft is proposing the HoloLens very much as a gaming device, by showing a holographic Minecraft world all around a living room, it is likely that gaming will just be a small part of its potential. This is exactly what happened with the Kinect: it was made for gaming and ended up being used for everything but. As we know at 3DPI, the Kinect is frequently used for creating 3D models to 3D print.  The same – if you watch minute 1:15 to 1:20 of the video below –  is likely to happen with the Microsoft HoloLens.

In fact, Microsoft has been a big believer in consumer 3D printing from the beginning, when it integrated 3D printing support in its Windows 8 operating system and beganselling MakerBot 3D printers in its stores. It should come as no surprise that it sees 3D printing as a way to transform whatever can be seen and made in the virtual AR world into a physical object.  And, with AR, the reverse process is true, too: bringing the real world into the virtual.

microsoft hololens displays minecraft 3D printing

It is also clear that it would be impossible to talk about a 3D holographic system, today, without mentioning 3D printing, a great victory for the industry and its quest to raise popular awareness about the technology. In this quest to blend virtual reality with physical reality, Microsoft will be facing off with HP’s blended reality ecosystem, 3D Systems’ Digital Thread, and Autodesk’s Reality Computing. Although, judging from the Microsoft HoloLens, Satya Nadella’s company seems to be a little further ahead at this point. Virtual and physical will be meeting up through 3D printing and the software companies have a lot more muscle at this point.


Other applications will range from education to medical, engineering and architectural design. It will likely cause less nausea than the Oculus Rift and have more possible, practical applications than Google Glass. It looks as if, this time, Microsoft beat the competition. At least until Apple’s announces the visor it has been developing since acquiring the makers of the Kinect, Primesense, last year.


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