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Microsoft is looking into how the HoloLens could work with PCs, Xbox One

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Microsoft's HoloLens is designed to be it's own thing, not a peripheral for computer, console, tablet or phone. That's a distinction the company feels is incredibly important to make to ensure the success of the device.

But if the HoloLens becomes a successful standalone product, it doesn't sound like Microsoft will stop there. They understand the desire people might have to use a hologram headset with the Xbox One or Windows and they're already thinking about how that might work.

"We think it's important the thing succeeds as a stand-alone device," said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. "I think the experiences you see today are all standalone. They're running in the device itself, which is really an accomplishment. There's no tether to something else, cause what you're going to see is fairly high fidelity experiences that I think will be impressive that it's running right here. We wanted to land that first."

And even as a standalone device, Spencer said, he believes gaming will play an important role.

"To me, there's not a successful consumer electronics device on the planet where gaming is not a primary form of kind of app category on the thing," he said. "I think HoloLens will work out the same way. I think gaming will be important. Specific scenarios with the Xbox we're thinking hard about where people could ask about streaming solutions, use it as a display for my Xbox, we don't have answers for any of those things."

But once the device launches for consumers and if it is a success, using HoloLens with other hardware does sound like a distinct possibility.


"If you've got more processing power locally, how they relay is clearly on the roadmap in a way easier than what we started with first, which is how to make this thing a dedicated device," Spencer said.

And it's also important to note that, at least currently, this is Microsoft's answer to virtual reality too, there are no other devices out there being developed to compete more directly with things like the Oculus Rift.

"For us I think this is the area," he said. "When you use it, you will see some of the opacity that can happen to say OK, like how black could you make the shield versus what you saw with mixed reality.

"I love the virtual reality stuff that's out there, Morpheus, Oculus, I think they're doing great work and I've said it over and over, I just love that our industry continues to push innovation forward. I've always applauded Sony and Oculus and what they've created. I think this is something different."

Spencer noted Holobuilder, the mixed reality game inspired by Minecraft which turns your living room, den, whatever, into a play space for building and destroying.

When you first see that game, he says, you can see the difference between mixed reality and virtual reality.

"When you see those scenarios coming together, creating gaming experiences right in the room, I think you'll see that it's kind of different than VR," he said. "VR is, in my mind, kind of a completely immersive block out the rest of the world, I've got a large screen on the wall, a virtual screen, and this really creates a mixed capability that I think is different."