Reality is about to change in a huge way.
As virtual reality (VR) takes over the technology space, transporting users into a simulated, 3-D world, niche forms of VR technology merge a virtual world with our real, lived experiences through augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). Enter Microsoft and its HoloLens device.
HoloLens takes the approach of mixed reality with its device, providing a self-contained holographic processing unit into a HoloLens headset with clear lenses that allows users to see their actual surroundings as well as holograms right in front of them.
Our communication team took a walk over to our Microsoft Garage space in Cambridge to test the HoloLens out for ourselves and interact with mixed reality for the first time… and we were floored.
When you put on the HoloLens device, it’s like viewing your natural world, only enhanced. You can go about your day in the physical world while your digital world constantly appears in front of you, too. Say hello to your friend in real life, check your email, snap a photo, look at your calendar — even place a dog hologram on the couch in your living room. Your “cursor” is your eyes. You can make selections with a simple airtap motion (think lobster pincers).
With other virtual reality devices — which we demoed the same day — you’re transported into a completely new world. Looking around 360°, everything in your line of sight is virtually designed (oftentimes built through Unity 3D). But HoloLens acts more like a bridge; the goggles don’t impede your view, but instead enhance what you’re seeing. The holograms presented by HoloLens add to your experience, instead of being the whole experience.
For example, in the first-person shooter game RoboRaid, enemies come at you from every possible direction in the room you’re standing. Spatial mapping transforms your surroundings into a unique battlefield — so yes, you can still see your refrigerator, but look out… here comes an enemy robo-drone crashing through it! You’re the main player, a hero in your own home.
We’ve seen HoloLens graphics used as supplementary teaching tools; in one demo, one can walk around a diagram of a beating heart to get a 360° view of the organ, providing a close-up, full-circle look of the live organ without having to step into an operating room. In another, users are transported back to the Mesozoic Era to learn how dinosaurs behaved. Imagine the doors a HoloLens could open for students!
Being able to visualize and interact with digital content is a step forward into innovation, and there are plenty of ways this technology can be incorporated into everyday tasks, for education, design, engineering, and more. We’re excited to see new applications for HoloLens as it grows, from civic management to healthcare to education and beyond.
See how users are implementing HoloLens technology in new and innovative ways at this link.