About a month ago Designstor had the honour of becoming part of the first wave of developers to get their hands on the new Microsoft Hololens. It was a while before Franco and Rob stopped hogging the units for initial tests, but eventually, everyone got to try them. And, almost without exception, the first word to escape our mouths was “wow” (though one of us is on record as starting with “these are not quite as comfortable as my glasses”).
For those not familiar with this new-fangled device, the HoloLens is an untethered holographic computer that generates “mixed reality,” meaning, in a nutshell, that it holographically adds objects to the world around you through a host of sensors, including IR cameras, accelerometers, gyroscopes, a magnetometer and more. This isn’t virtual reality where the computer generates everything you see, but, rather, an amplification of what you see around you.
What’s truly amazing is that the unit’s sense of spatial awareness is advanced enough that the holographic objects are occluded by the real world environment: if you “put” something behind an opaque object (say, a pillar), you have to walk around to the other side in order to view it. The Microsoft HoloLens is good enough at mapping its surroundings that holographic objects placed in this new reality, when nudged off a table, will…fall to the floor.
Amusingly, all the holographic objects that clutter your new augmented reality persist through time; when you leave for home after a productive day at work all the things you’ve scattered about your environment are waiting for you the next day, right where you left them. So, for instance, any time you put the headset on here at designstor you will see about six or seven extra windows and objects floating around Franco’s desk, some with actual work-related content, others featuring some rather questionable videos. Robert’s desk, meanwhile, is surrounded by content that is strictly in keeping with his above-reproach character. For shame, Franco.
We are working on integrating the Microsoft HoloLens into the next generation of designstor interactive presentations, and there are so many possibilities with this technology that they’re difficult to enumerate. Virtual suite tours are high on the list though: this would be something like walking around the museum with a headset, but with all the visual details included. See the guided arrows pointing you to the next stop. Direct your gaze at a blank sales centre wall, but see a balcony with your future view on a sunny day. Explore all the various appliance and finish packages your kitchen might have via voice commands. Want to see if your ceilings are higher than a giraffe? Done–with an actual life-sized holographic giraffe for comparison.
Then, maybe you’ll turn your head to look at what is in reality a blank podium, but to you is a fully real-time 3D model that can be rotated by the laconic sweep of a hand (“this is the home you are looking for”). Or, it could be that an actual physical model rests on that podium. With the HoloLens this model is surrounded by floor plans that open up on command, full motion video depicting what’s available to residents in the exercise room and a neighbourhood map that radiates beyond the model itself, with fully animated street life and all the best shopping spots highlighted.
And, best of all, these can all be shared virtual experiences. You can hook every additional HoloLens headset into the same environment, meaning that you all see the same things, but from your own perspective. This is house hunting at its most futuristic; however, the applications really are limitless. Check out what the HoloLens could do for sports fans.