Over the last few weeks we’ve seen some really impressive demonstrations of the capabilities of Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality all-in-one headset.
The system costs $3,000, so it only makes financial sense to buy one right now for certain applications, like construction. For example, HoloLens holds the potential to save money during the planning and construction of anything from a Mars rover to a bathroom. While it is expensive, the headset is able to understand its location wirelessly indoors or outdoors with incredible accuracy — a technical feat no other augmented or virtual reality technology has been able to match in a consumer product. This critical feature (sometimes called “inside out” tracking) means that as the price comes down and features improve a lot more people will find reasons to bring this kind of equipment into their home.
We found the below five videos (plus the two linked above) do an incredible job showing the potential not just for HoloLens, but for a mixed reality future living with AR and VR technology as part of our everyday lives. If you don’t already believe AR and VR are poised to change our lives these videos should help change your mind.
For Household Chores
This demo shows a person wearing HoloLens and using it to insert a virtual sphere inside of a bush to provide guidelines to trim it into that shape. Essentially, it’s taking the old idea of a coloring book — where you try to stay inside the lines — and applying to the 3D world around us.
We’ve seen a number of games demonstrated on HoloLens, such as Fragments and Young Conker which come bundled with the devkit, but seeing a 3D emulation of Super Mario Bros. is one of the most eye-opening yet. HoloLens has a relatively limited field of view when compared to VR headsets, so you’ll only ever see virtual objects floating in a rectangle in the middle of your vision. This poses some very challenging design problems to game designers. Many ideas that work great in a fully immersive VR world — where your mind believes you are somewhere else — just wouldn’t work very well playing in the real world with virtual objects inserted into a small portion of it.
Classic video games like Super Mario Bros., however, were built for square and rectangular screens. This may make them the perfect fit for a few minutes of fun distraction inside HoloLens.
From billboards and street signs to the fronts of buildings, words meet our eyes almost everywhere we look and it’s kind of astonishing how ugly most of these words actually look when you read them. Typography sets apart easy-to-understand text from something that’s frustrating to read. The $3 app Typography Insight by Dong Yoon Park offers a pretty compelling demonstration of how you could see how a particular type style will look before it gets put in the real world. Say goodbye to ugly signs.
A number of similar videos are on Youtube, but this particular demonstration shows how HoloLens can be used to teach someone to play the piano. It overlays which keys to press directly onto the keyboard itself in a rolling fashion similar to Guitar Hero.
For Motion Capture
— Seamless (@shiropen2) July 16, 2016
This last video seen on Twitter shows how HoloLens could be used to visualize a motion capture performance while it’s underway. A robotic figure repeats the same moves as the performer, potentially allowing filmmakers or game designers to more carefully direct performances that could bring more life out of the digitized character.