Future Decoded: Has Microsoft sounded the death knell for smartphones?

A visit to Microsoft’s mammoth tech event left me thinking that the smartphone’s days are numbered.

Held at ExCEl in London over 31 October and 1 November, Future Decoded drew in over 12,000 visitors, offering them an insight into where Microsoft believes technology is heading and where, therefore, they are focussing their resources.

There was much to see and think about, but one development really grabbed my attention as it seemed poised to totally transform the way we use technology in all aspects of our working and personal lives.

Reality, augmented

HoloLens is Microsoft’s ‘Mixed Reality’, or ‘Augmented Reality’, technology, and it is remarkable, not just in what it can do now, but even more so in terms of what it will be able to do in the future.

Donning a headband (a visor you may have seen worn for virtual reality), the user can interact with holograms of people, places and objects and, through the use of highly advanced sensors, engage with the physical spaces and things around them.

As one of the presenting suppliers, PTC, describes it:

Augmented Reality has the power to fundamentally change the way people work. It bridges the digital and physical worlds, providing value across the enterprise. When coupled with IoT data, AR applications become truly transformative experiences, driving many enterprises to completely re-imagine how they design, produce, sell, operate and service their products.’

No small praise, and it’s easy to see why. This new technology lets us explore both virtual and physical worlds in great detail, helping us to understand things better and communicate more efficiently. The future possibilities for practical applications in the business world seem endless.

For example, users can explore a building in hologram form, or have the real-time hologram of a person they are talking to appear in the room with them for a virtual face-to-face conversation.

Schools can learn about their subjects in 3D form, be it historical buildings or the workings of an animal, while surgeons can envision an operation in its entirety before embarking on the real thing.

One particularly useful application for HoloLens is for the assembly and disassembly of a complex piece of machinery.

In the demonstration, users could see a 3D hologram of a part and could identify which components of the part should be removed at each stage of disassembly as they were highlighted on the hologram. Using virtual tools, the user can walk themselves right through the process before doing it on the real thing.

There seemed to me to be huge potential for this in factories and engineering companies.

A fully mobile future

Despite HoloLens technology still being in its infancy, unlike Virtual Reality solutions, users are not required to be tethered to a PC by a long cable and Microsoft has only just started its call out to developers to consider what apps they could create using HoloLens.

However, this Mixed Reality future may soon be a part of our everyday lives, kicking even the ubiquitous smartphone firmly into the past.

The uses for Microsoft’s Mixed Reality tech will grow and grow, as the technology develops and becomes more versatile and mobile and, with a visor providing us with all the work, play and communications data we need on the go, what would be the point of us also having a mobile phone?

HoloLens supports all the operating systems already used by Springboard, so we feel confident that there will be plenty of opportunity for us to help our clients embrace this technology as it becomes a part of our everyday lives.

If you want to know more about how Springboard can help your business benefit from the latest technological developments, give us a call.

For more information on HoloLens, click here