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Microsoft Hololens will redefine our reality


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Microsoft shocked and blindsided tech watchers last month when in a largely predictable conference they pulled a rabbit out of their hats and launched what could be one of the most transformative products not just of this year but perhaps the decade

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Microsoft Hololens will redefine our reality

  1. 1. Technology 64 | GlobeAsia March 2015 PHOTOSCOURTESYOFFUBIZ.NET M icrosoft shocked and blindsided tech watchers last month when in a largely predictable conference they pulled a rabbit out of their hats and launched what could be one of the most transformative products not just of this year but perhaps the decade. Microsoft Hololens is such a unique product that there isn’t quite a consensus yet on what it is. The device has variously been referred to as a Virtual Reality (VR) headset and an Augmented Reality (AR) device but it doesn’t quite fit into either category. The fact is however that while Hololens could’ve been a niche product if it had been made by almost any other company, with Microsoft’s help it has a good chance of making it mainstream. Facebook’s Oculus and Google Glass have been the belles of the ball thus far but a prettier girl just walked in. Both Google and Oculus have been rather opaque about their VR plans. They’re starting to become old news now and neither have really entered the mass consumer market. This could change. Both Facebook and Google have massive user bases and the companies will no doubt find a way to capitalize on their user base to push Oculus or Glass. Why both these companies should be quaking in their boots however is because so many of their users still visit Facebook and/ or Google on a Windows PC. Now Microsoft Hololens will redefine our reality
  2. 2. March 2015 GlobeAsia | 65 Jason Fernandes Tech commentator and the founder of SmartKlock. progresses Hololens will likely get more intuitive. The funny thing is that so much of how we use computers is governed by how we interact with them. For the past several years this has meant using a mouse and that has not been a bad thing because mice are so efficient at what they do. Hololens is a completely different way to interact with one’s PC and as such this will likely spawn new interfaces and increase functionality as well. Anybody who has ever tried to draw using a mouse pointer can attest to how frustrating the experience is as opposed to using a stylus on a touchscreen. This is a perfect example of how excellent software can be done in with a terrible user experience. The Hololens will unlock new ways we can interact with our content. As 3D printing gains in acceptance people will look back on 3D design tools of today the same way we look at rock carvings from the prehistoric era because Hololens is so clearly what’s needed to take designing and 3D printing mainstream. Indeed Microsoft hinted at the massive possibilities in 3D design and printing during their demo of the Microsoft Holostudio (their new 3D design program). The demo had an employee on the stage build an aerial drone in virtual space. While the that Microsoft has fully integrated Windows 10 with Hololens the VR wars have officially begun. All headsets are not created equal Up until now VR headsets such as Oculus Rift have provided users with somewhat Lord of the Rings type experiences wherein the user is transported instantly to an immersive alternate reality that bears no relationship with the real world once he or she dons the device. AR headsets in contrast such as Google Glass keep the user still very much in the real world but ‘augments’ their experience with mostly text- based information, some images but none in 3D (think Robocop/ Terminator). The Hololens gives you something in between. Microsoft’s new device essentially projects a virtual world over your field of view, allowing you to interact with 3D holograms as though they were real, something we have not quite seen before. It’s a cliché to refer to the movie Minority Report whenever VR pops up but in this case the parallels are significant. How Microsoft got it right The fact is that the future of how we interact with digital objects in virtual space could belong not to VR, or indeed even to AR, but to this chimera that was born out of the recesses of Microsoft labs. Hololens is quite clearly the missing bridge between the two and works rather intuitively to create a virtual environment that blends digital objects with the real world. Interacting with the environment is easy because Hololens knows where you are looking so pointing just involves looking in a particular direction, while manipulating objects involves a combination of voice recognition and ‘air clicks’. Admittedly air clicks are hokey, but as time interface still seemed like it could use some work, the employee was able to build one in a surprisingly short time. And in case people didn’t get the hint, Microsoft went ahead and removed all doubt when it launched an earlier 3D printed version of the same drone into the crowd. Less social resistance than Glass One of the major reasons Glass has been criticized is that it is designed to be worn while out and about. Walking out in public with something as visible as Google Glass is bound to influence the way you use the device and/or the situations you think it’s appropriate to use it. In contrast Hololens is mainly designed for indoor use and, because of the sensors, Hololens provides a uniquely different experience since it can also map out your surroundings and project 3D content into your version of reality. This makes it perfectly suited to a whole host of operations both at home (interactive cooking shows etc.) and at work (interactive Skype video conferences). An area Hololens can have a great impact is education. Imagine doctors working with experts from all over the world to guide them while doing particularly complex surgeries. Microsoft’s demo included a section where reporters were encouraged to do some plumbing while being guided remotely – live – by an expert. The expert was able to draw in 3D in real time over their environment and their field of view. Clearly this sort of disruptive innovation could have profound implications in the educational/medical field. Nothing quite like it To Microsoft’s credit, there’s nothing else quite like the Hololens. While Google Glass is interesting and Oculus is – well, not here yet – Microsoft’s Microsoft Hololens is such a unique product that there isn’t quite a consensus yet on what it is.
  3. 3. Technology While an astute observation, Nadella failed to mention that many of these so-called category creation devices (with the notable exception of the iPad) were born out of a company either on the edge of extinction or at the very least struggling for air. When the iPod came out, for example, Apple was nowhere near the lumbering giant it is today; it had only recently hired back founder Steve Jobs and was only just turning the corner on a period where it was close to bankruptcy. Apple really had to work over several years to be the kind of industry standard it is today. In contrast, While Google Glass is interesting and Oculus is - well, not here yet - Microsoft’s technology will be released for consumer consumption imminently in Windows 10 timeframe. technology will be released for consumer consumption imminently in Windows 10 timeframe. In the recent past Apple has been considered an innovative company but both the iPod and the iPhone while revolutionary in their respective categories, were not the very first of those categories. The difference between the iPhone and the previous crop of smartphones is significant but the iPhone is only an incremental leap at best. Enthusiasts will recall that way before the iPhone in 2005 Motorola released the Rokr, a cellphone predating iPhone that featured a fully integrated version of Apple iTunes. Consider the iPod for that matter. While it mainstreamed portable media players, it bore at least a fair resemblance to the Diamond Rio PMP300 (considered by many to be the first commercially available MP3 player). As somebody who has owned both the Motorola Rokr and the Rio PMP300 and then went on to get the first generation iPod and iPhone I could clearly see they were related. In the case of Microsoft Hololens however, there really isn’t anything that comes close. This freight train won’t stop Many might liken the birth of Hololens to other disruptive technologies like the iPod and iPhone but there are some principle differences. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, vaguely referred to this when he said at the launch that “Our industry’s progress is punctuated by moments of category creation.” Nadella went on to describe Windows and holographic computing as “one such moment.” Microsoft today is in much greater financial health then Apple was when they launched the iPod or even the iPhone. Microsoft’s massive bank balance and dominance in the PC industry has quite a bit of inertia. The company has ensured that Hololens runs Windows 10, and this should make companies like Oculus really nervous because it means Microsoft intends to extend its dominance in the PC space right into the 3D virtual world and they have the money to make it happen. The competition will have to sprint if they intend to catch up with Microsoft and in particular if they intend to mount a significant campaign directly against them. Glass could skate by given they are not quite direct competitors but I would wager that Oculus Rift is thanking their lucky stars that they got acquired by deep- pocketed Facebook. Author Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park fame once said: “We all live every day in virtual environments, defined by our ideas.” With Hololens for the first time we can conceive of a world where we can see and interact with those ideas in real time and from all accounts the effect is magical. 66 | GlobeAsia March 2015
  4. 4. INDONESIA’S NO 1 BUSINESS MAGAZINE A A S I VOLUME 9 NUMBER 3 / MARCH 2015 SOEs GET SHOT IN THE ARM WITH NEW LEADERS Singapore Australia Malaysia Indonesia Philippines Thailand Taiwan Others S$13.00 A$9.95 RM18.00 Rp50,000 P250 B210 NT$210 US$8 MICA (P) 142/10/2007 Singapore Australia Malaysia Indonesia Philippines Thailand Taiwan Others S$13.00 A$9.95 RM18.00 Rp50,000 P250 B210 NT$210 US$8 MICA (P) 142/10/2007 SWEET SUCCESS Lie Kamadjaya is reinvigorating the country’s sugar industry with bold ideas and some hard cash.
  5. 5. A Media Holdings Publication4 | GlobeAsia March 2015 Columnists 14 Steve Hanke Currency Wars, Again 60 Jamil Maidan Flores In the southern Philippines a peace process is wounded 64 Jason Fernandes Microsoft Hololens will redefine our reality 98 Scott Younger The Jakarta MRT 100 Keith Loveard Pictures from an ugly past contentsVOLUME 9 NUMBER 3 / MARCH 2015 SPECIALREPORT 86 A shot in the arm for SOEs Under new minister Rini Soemarno, the country’s state-owned enterprises are poised to play a leading role in the economic development. KnowledgeatWharton 92 Is your leadership style right for the Digital Age? EVENT 104 Still No 1 Indonesia’s premier English-language business magazine, GlobeAsia celebrated its 8th anniversary recently as it looked ahead to many more years of telling Indonesia’s corporate story. LivingtheGoodLife 114 Into The Blue Leave the kids behind at Club Med’s latest Maldivian retreat. 118 Suit Up Stephen and Samuel Wongso of Wong Hang Tailor shed light on some easy-to- follow, basic suit etiquette. BackPage 120Pasar Besar Malang LEADERSHIP 58 Closing the leadership deficit Finding and grooming leaders is one of the most daunting challenges facing Indonesia today. SPECIALFOCUS 68 Changing the guard at major banks Changes are afoot at the nation’s top 10 banks with a possible shakeup having long-term ramifications for banking sector. 74 Boosting the syariah finance industry The Financial Services Authority (OJK) is set to launch a five-year roadmap for syariah finance as part of efforts to boost the syariah banking industry from its low market share of only 5%. 78 Technology that counts Bank Permata is determined to leverage information technology as a way to win more customers and keep them satisfied as part of its strategy for gaining ground in the banking industry. 80 Gatot goes out fighting Gatot M Suwondo is fighting a rearguard battle to stop the government making changes he thinks aren’t in the bank’s best interests eventhough he is no longer in charge. 84 BTN aims for lower NPL in 2015 Bank Tabungan Negara is shooting to lower its non-performing loans by selling mortgage-backed securities. 114 PHOTOKATADATA.CO.ID 88
  6. 6. 6 | GlobeAsia March 2015 A mid the heightened excitement surrounding the rise of Indonesia’s consumer class and the sharp growth of the services sector over the past few years, one of the country’s most important sectors has been largely forgotten. Agriculture is presumably not as sexy as building hotels and malls or as owning a coal mine. But with global commodity prices having fallen sharply and unlikely to rise anytime in the future, and with the glow over the property sector fading, perhaps it is time to refocus on agriculture as a primary driver of gross domestic product growth. Indonesia is the world’s 10th largest agricultural producer. Agriculture contributes 14% of GDP and employs about 40% of the labor force. The country is internationally significant in its production and export of rice, palm oil, coffee, rubber, cocoa and spices. Half of its 250 million people are still defined as rural, although this figure has been declining steadily over the past 50 years. But years of under-investment, bad government policies and neglect has led to the relatively slow growth of value-added agriculture. This slow productivity growth has persisted for almost three decades and has damaged the country’s pursuit of increased self-sufficiency in food crops. It has also reduced Indonesia’s international competitiveness in agricultural products. Without productivity growth, the only way Indonesia can reduce its reliance on imports is by erecting trade barriers and imposing stiff tariffs. This policy in the past has caused domestic prices to soar and led to social unrest. No consumer wants to pay more for food, especially if it is caused by poor government policies. Editor’s Note Editorial Editor in Chief Shoeb Kagda Managing Editor Yanto Soegiarto Deputy Editors Muhamad Al Azhari Editor at Large John Riady Senior Editor Albert W. Nonto Denverino Dante Contributing Editors Farid Harianto Steve Hanke Scott Younger Contributors Suryo Bambang Sulisto Wijayanto Samirin Frans Winarta Jason Fernandes John Denton Special Columnist Jamil Maidan Flores Reporters Vanesha Manuturi Dion Bisara Copy Editor Geraldine Tan Art, Design and Layout Gimbar Maulana Elsid Arendra Agustinus W. Triwibowo Nela Realino Wulan Tagu Dedo Rudi Pandjaitan Senior Photographers M. Defrizal Suhadi Production Assistant Danang Kurniadi GlobeAsia Magazine BeritaSatu Plaza 9th Floor Jl. Jendral Gatot Subroto Kav. 35-36 Jakarta 12950 Indonesia Tel +62 21 29957500 Fax +62 21 5200072 For sales inquiries salesglobeasia@ To subscribe Keeping the plate full It is clear that Indonesia’s agricultural sector is in need of reform. The sector needs a huge injection of private capital and – more importantly – new ideas. For sure public investment, especially in infrastructure, will also be critical if the sector is to reclaim its past glory. Entrepreneurs such as Lie Kamadjaya, 47, will be central to the revival of the country’s agricultural sector. As our cover story relates, Kamadjaya has developed a new sugar plant in Blora, Central Java and plans to build another modern plant in Madura, East Java. It is telling that his plants will be the first new capital investments in the sector for the past three decades. It is heartening to learn that Indonesian entrepreneurs have not given up on the agricultural sector despite a host of other more enticing opportunities. He has empowered farmers by providing them with better seeds and fertilizer, helping them raise productivity as well as their incomes. By partnering with farmers instead of competing with them, Kamadjaya has shown a new way of doing business. His ideas have been well received by sugar farmers and his methods helped raise overall sugar production. As a result, Blora is now returning to sugar cane as a major industry, relieving the area’s dependence on teak plantations. “I want to make this plant a glue that can bind the community, helping people live in harmony, with respect for each other and, most importantly, with better incomes,” he says. That at the end of the day is what capitalism should be all about. Shoeb Kagda Editor in Chief