By: David Kashmer (@DavidKashmer)
Dr. Kashmer receives no reimbursement from Microsoft for reviewing their product or for anything else for that matter (!)
It’s rare that a new piece of technology falls in my lap that makes me say wow. Maybe it’s the professional detachment from years of physician training…who knows! But, write it down: the Microsoft Hololens is amazing…and it’s useful right now.
Recently, as a Microsoft Developer, I received the Hololens I bought several months ago. I had fairly low expectations. I mean, yes, I’d read great things from CES and other events. But I mean, come on, we’ve all seen way over-hyped tech products that promise great things and do very little.
I’d been a Google Glass Explorer, and I loved the idea. The heads up display, the fact that the device took up very little real estate, and the ability to connect to useful data in a rapid way seemed to hold great potential for healthcare applications. Once upon a time, I was even part of a company that was developing a system for the device for healthcare applications. However, once I reviewed the device (see that review here) I began to realize that Glass held great potential, and could be more useful with time, but that it really wasn’t ready for primetime.
Now, fast forward a year or so, and my expectations were (maybe understandably) low. I mean, after all, I’d experienced the Glass, and the “Glass-hole” (term coined for how people came off while wearing Glass) phenomenon. I was still a little jaded from the whole thing. My expectations were low.
So, when I received the developer version of the Hololens, I figured much of the experience would be the same. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.
First, the developer version of Hololens that I received has smooth, incredible functionality. It does MUCH more than the comparatively bare bones developer version of Glass that I’d received previously. But that’s not all.
This thing is stunning, its voice, hand gesture, gaze, & click recognition are all excellent. Cortana (the Microsoft voice-activated assistant) is also very useful. Battery life is good. And, of course, there’s the holographic interface.
I mean, jeez, I would’ve bought it just for that. A three dimensional anatomic model, a virtual trip to Rome, and a Holo Studio for creating your own 3D (and 3D printable) models were easy to install from the Microsoft store via Wifi.
The form factor? Well, this device isn’t super cool or incredibly sleek. Lucky, with its amazing creation of a three dimensional interface environment, I didn’t (and still don’t) care. After all, a lot of the accessories we wear in healthcare don’t look cool.
What did I do with the device first? Well, after setting it up, I did what any good user would do and immediately tested this new, incredible piece of technology by opening a panel with Netflix and streaming a Game of Thrones episode followed by an episode of Stranger Things. I laughed at myself for how silly it was to use such awesome technology as a fancy Netflix streaming device…but, hey, it could easily handle it and the whole situation was (although funny) truly awesome. (Not long after, it was on to Family Guy.)
So what now? Now, it’s easy to take this incredible device into the different fluid, fast-paced venues of the hospital. It’s a simple matter to use the device as eye protection in the trauma bay or the OR. It’s straightforward to setup some holographic projections over the patient’s bed and to display their real time info from the electronic medical record. It’s no big deal to setup a panel with their CT scan displayed while I teach or perform a procedure. The photo above highlights just a bit of how easy it is to show website information in the Hololens environment.
In conclusion, it’s rare that I’m amazed by a tech product–especially in these days of fast-paced innovation. However, when it comes to this one, I have one thing to say:
Thank you, Microsoft, for building Hololens. This thing is amazing and will allow us in healthcare to do a lot of good. Thank you so much.
…and that’s coming from an Apple guy!