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article imageAsus might build its own Microsoft HoloLens holographic headset

By James Walker     Oct 19, 2015 in Technology
Computer manufacturer Asus is reportedly interested in making its own version of Microsoft's innovative augmented reality HoloLens headset. For its part, Microsoft is apparently willing to help as it demonstrates HoloLens is a viable concept.
Asus CEO Jonney Shih and Microsoft's executive vice-president of Windows and devices Terry Myerson confirmed the mutual interest in an interview with CNET today. Asus' current product portfolio ranges from budget Windows laptops and Chromebooks to enthusiast gaming rigs and professional-class computing components, but Shih seems interested in adding some cutting-edge next-generation experiences to the list.
Microsoft's HoloLens has consistently impressed audiences at each event it has been taken to so far. Microsoft has regularly shared details of HoloLens' progression, most recently showing the headset being used to play an immersive mixed-reality game at its Windows 10 devices event in New York City earlier this month. The player was tasked with shooting aliens crawling out of the walls of their room using a holographic gun.
In New York, Microsoft announced that an early version of HoloLens will be made available to developers for $3,000 early next year. It is thought that the first pricey consumer edition could land towards the end of 2016 or in the first quarter of the following year.
However, Microsoft is also keen for other companies to develop their own versions of HoloLens. Myerson told CNET: "Everything we're doing in hardware, we do with the mind of how do we grow the Windows ecosystem. That is why we're investing to create a category."
Microsoft wants holographic headsets to evolve into their own line of products, built by a range of manufacturers like with laptops and tablets today. Asus CEO Shih is apparently eager to be one of the first to join Microsoft in releasing such a headset, "evaluating" the potential of building a pair of augmented reality glasses that would presumably be powered by the same Windows 10-based core as HoloLens.
Although a lot of the attention given to HoloLens thus far has been directed at games, Microsoft sees it becoming an invaluable tool in the workplace too. It could give doctors and surgeons vital practice at carrying out complex procedures and allow architects and designers to visualize new creations to scale and in 3D. Best-selling game Minecraft has consistently won praise from people who have gained early access to the HoloLens hardware and experienced Mojang's blocky worlds in their living room, but over time the headset is expected to evolve into a device capable of doing much more than just letting you explore games in 3D.
The best part of an Asus HoloLens is likely to be the price. Over the years, the company has proven it can build high-quality products for a fraction of the price of competitors, suggesting it could build a low-cost alternative to Microsoft's offering while still being capable of running the same software and apps.
With Windows 10 and the Augmented Reality and Universal Apps platforms being readily available to anyone, there isn't anything stopping other manufacturers building rival headsets, something Myerson emphasised by saying Microsoft is creating a category. It remains to be seen whether other companies will want to invest in an as-yet unproven technology still many months away from getting anywhere near consumer budgets though.
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