Showing off what Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality can do is difficult without actually putting it on someone’s head, but the company’s new camera hack is providing a helping hand.
Whenever we’ve seen HoloLens on-stage at shows like E3, or Microsoft’s own press conferences, the company will have one person wearing the kit, while the audience sees what they see using a special camera. After today, however, anyone with two HoloLens units can also record what one user is seeing thanks to what the company is calling ‘Spectator View‘.
It’s a pretty simple concept but you’ll likely need to do some shopping if you want to try it out. First off, you’ll have to download a specific app that enables other software to run as a shared experience. From there, you’ll have to assemble a camera rig with a camera that has an HDMI-out or photo capture SDK. You’ll need an aluminum bracket that connects the bottom of your HoloLens to the top of your camera, and a 3D printed adapter that will link the two together.
Fear not; Microsoft has an in-depth guide to assembling the rig, complete with the nuts and bolts you’ll need.
Spectator Mode is similar in concept to the mixed reality filming seen in the VR industry, though has added complications given HoloLens’ entirely independent solution and the fact that holograms can be viewed from anywhere, not just within a specific, tracked space.
Requiring a second $3,000 HoloLens means this isn’t the most cost-effective solution for demoing AR, but it does open up your HoloLens apps to a much larger viewing audience. It’s a first step in bringing mixed reality into YouTube videos or sharing images on social networks; imagine giving talks and swapping out Powerpoint slides for 3D data visuals that are far more engaging for the audience.
Ultimately we’d like to see dedicated cameras for this use, or perhaps a cheaper alternative from Google as its Project Tango AR tech continues to evolve. Given HoloLens itself is still in its developer kit stages, we wouldn’t expect to see official products from Microsoft that film in MR until the device itself is available to consumers. For now, this is a great way to show what HoloLens can do to as many people as possible.