Earlier this year, Microsoft spent $150 million to acquire Intellectual Property relating to military heads-up displays from a company called Osterhout Design Group. After some careful investigation, we came across a video that highlights exactly what Microsoft acquired, and it looks awesome.
In the video, we have the man behind the company, Ralph Osterhout, talking about what this technology is capable of accomplishing for soldiers on the battlefield, and for consumers. This video was posted on YouTube back in 2011, long before Microsoft opened up the checkbook.
The main thing folks should realize about Osterhout's invention is that it focuses a lot on augmented reality instead of virtual reality. Osterhout believes virtual reality would likely lead to accidents such as your dinner ending up on your shirt because users are locked out of the real world and thrown into a fake one.
The cool feature we like about this technology is the addition of a secondary accessory that is worn on the finger like a ring. It allows users to add a cursor to their virtual display, and navigate the user interface similar to how one would navigate on a PC. It's a cool idea, though we're not certain if it is needed since consumers are looking for a hands-free solution to everything these days.
What the video shows appears to be something out of a Sci-Fi movie, and it makes us wonder how Microsoft plans to introduce all the cool things without giving users a day or two worth of battery life. We doubt Microsoft will throw everything in at once, but gradually add new features over time.
The device in the video was running a version of Android, and we have to say software and the overlay looks beautiful.
How does it compare to Google Glass?
Google Glass in its current form is OK, but this thing, it appears to be far ahead of whatever Google is working on for Glass right now. The things Osterhout demoed in the video gives the impression of a true augmented reality heads-up display, and the design of the glass itself doesn't look intimidating at all.
Folks could easily wear this into a bar or restaurant without ticking off anyone since there's no camera at the front giving people an uneasy feeling.
Still, the whole thing will come down to Microsoft's own implementation of the technology. If the software company fails, it will only have itself to blame because this technology looks wonderful.