Microsoft’s new software for the HoloLens, an augmented reality (AR) headset, allows users to browse the Web with hand gestures and view virtual 3-D objects in real-world environments. In combination, these features let you shop online and preview furniture in your living room before you buy it. Microsoft calls this augmented reality experience, in which 3-D holograms overlay your real physical environment, “mixed reality.”
Beyond AR, the new update also enables more immersive virtual reality experiences. The holographic app HoloTour allows users to immerse themselves in visually rich environments, transporting wearers to virtual landscapes such as the Pantheon in Rome. These snazzy new features blur the lines between augmented and virtual reality. With its wide field of view and transparent display, the HoloLens can act as an AR and a VR headset. The only limiting factor is HoloLens’ $3,000 price tag currently. Luckily, Microsoft also announced that they’re opening up the platform to third-party manufacturers, which may bring the price down to as little as $299 and still capable of running the HoloLens’ software.