Microsoft, Volvo team up to sell cars using holograms

Partnership calls for car maker to create virtual showroom experiences for Microsoft's HoloLens

People who want to buy a new Volvo in the future may search for the car of their dreams by looking at holographic renderings rather than walking around a physical showroom filled with vehicles.

The Swedish car maker announced a new partnership with Microsoft this week to use the tech giant's HoloLens augmented reality headset in order to provide a virtual showroom experience to customers. Scott Erickson, a senior director in charge of marketing on the HoloLens team, said in a blog post announcing the deal that it could allow users to examine the interior of a car, or look at its drivetrain in action.

It's a clear and useful application for the HoloLens, a headset that lets wearers overlay digital objects on the world around them. It does that by packing a headband full of sensors and processing tools to create a window in users' fields of vision where they can interact with digital objects.

Volvo and Microsoft are also working together on a variety of other technology initiatives, according to a report by Jacob Demmitt at GeekWire. The two companies are also partnered on building autonomous cars, putting them in competition with Tesla, Google and maybe even Apple, if the rumors about the company's automotive ambitions are true.

This partnership is just one of many Microsoft has been forging around its augmented reality headgear. The company has already announced that it's working with organizations like NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Trimble and Case Western Reserve University to build applications for the device.

Independent developers who want to get their hands on Microsoft's virtual reality headgear can file an application with the company to buy a $3,000 HoloLens developer kit. It's unclear how that device (which is slated to ship during the first quarter of next year) will compare to the final consumer version of the HoloLens, for which Microsoft hasn't announced a release date.

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Blair Hanley Frank

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