Hologrammatical errors

OK, so here’s a puzzler.

Microsoft comes out with an extremely cool new device — the HoloLens — and then in their announcement they falsely describe it as a device for looking at holograms.

In fact, the HoloLens, as wonderful as it is, does not show you holograms. It doesn’t involve holography at all. Just to make sure, I asked somebody very high up on their technology team about this, and he confirmed the obvious.

What’s even stranger is that none of the major newspapers — not the New York Times, not the Washington Post, none of them — have pointed this out. They have all just repeated the obviously false assertion that this is a device for looking at holograms.

Why is it that in technology you are allowed to say any nutty thing you want, and nobody calls you on it? This generally does not happen in other sectors.

For example, if Paramount Pictures had opened Selma by saying “Martin Luther King was the leading figure in the struggle for the rights of Italian Americans”, would all the papers just have printed that?

I’m guessing that somebody, somewhere, would have called them on it.

4 Responses to “Hologrammatical errors”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    Some of the tech blogs did quietly point this out. I don’t blame Microsoft for using the term though. It’s a great way to get across what the end result is, even if it’s not accurately describing the means.

  2. admin says:

    I don’t blame Microsoft. I blame the New York Times.

  3. Thanks for checking on that. I asked all my coworkers about it yesterday at lunch because the articles bugged me so much. I was reading articles from Wired and Technology Review, magazines that are supposed to be about the technology itself.
    This is the quote from Technology Review:
    “Hololens uses a more sophisticated approach to tricking the human brain than is used by 3-D movies or virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift. Those devices create the illusion of depth by showing different, flat images to each eye. Holograms provide a more authentic illusion by recreating the complex “light fields” that real objects produce.”
    But clearly there is no point to a hologram if you know the precise relationship of your view to the object being viewed.

  4. CC says:

    I think there’d be a subtle, but important improvement by putting actual lightfield holograms in front of each eye. If each eye got 2D images that were supposed to change ever-so-subtly as the user moves only their eyes, I think there’d be a huge challenge of keeping the eye-tracking latency down. By showing each eye a 3D scene, they allow the scene appear appropriately for every fine movement of the user’s eyes, while using coarser eye-tracking for their actual UI interactions. I think with detailed-enough holograms, the difference might be enough to get the floating images out of an uncanny valley of not feeling exactly anchored to the world. Take these thoughts with a grain of salt, though, since I’m not intimately familiar with any of this technology.

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