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Microsoft's HoloLens Is Going to Transform How We Do Work

Mixed reality headsets have limited hardware capabilities and naturally imprecise interfaces. While that works just fine for games and entertainment, can they actually function as a tool for productivity?

The short answer: Surprisingly, yes. And the reason? Because they take all the advantages of using multiple monitors and remove their restrictions. This could have big implications for the office of the future.

The Untethered Workspace

Multiple windows get cluttered on a single display, so we often hook up an extra monitor or two in order to organized tasks in a series of focused frames. Unfortunately, this setup is somewhat finite.

You have a certain number of screens that you can't really move easily, and even then your options are limited. If you want a smaller or larger screen at any given time, you'd have to remove an existing one, buy a screen of a different size, and set it up with your computer. If you want to work in multiple locations, you'd need to duplicate your setup there. We accept these issues because the only possible resolutions are often absurd. But inside a holographic computing environment these issues don't even exist.

When you open an app, you essentially create a new monitor. You can place other app "displays" wherever you like. They not only act like giant screens for your content, but ones that can easily move in any direction to suit your gaze and exist in any physical indoor space with a Wi-Fi network.

Image by Holographic Insider/YouTube

The limitations of the physical workspace disappear in the virtual world. You can hook up a mouse and keyboard to a HoloLens and have an incredibly compact workstation—just your body—with more space than any desktop computing environment. You can throw it in a backpack, unlike a desktop computer with three monitors attached. You can go wandering around the room or go from sitting to standing without having to move monitors around.

This alone makes the prospect of working in a holographic environment much more attractive. Your work can be anywhere, any size you want, and next to anything. When a computer isn't confined to just one screen—or even a screen in the first place—you have an immense amount of room to get things done.

Cover image via Adam Dachis/WonderHowTo

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