Updated: 22nd March 2018

Hololens: Major the VR to AR Revolution

In BLI we like to get our hands dirty with the latest technology and devices, therefore when we saw that the Microsoft Hololens devkit was being released we had to get you. Our patience paid off and two weeks ago we got an unobtrusive small bundle at our door which proven to be our ticket to full blown AR goodness. The Hololens is a slick, groundbreaking, and feature-rich apparatus that delivers on lots of the guarantees of everything AR could offer. We did not waste any time and slipped right in exploring and developing for this gadget. Suffice to state that our reality was augmented ever since…

Hololens in RL

The Hololens is a little awkward to get situated and doesn’t really look like anything when you place it on since it is augmented reality, not virtual reality, and you’re looking through a clear screen the whole time. Like I got it corrected and fit to my head for the very first time, the device fired up and that I had been entered into the world of Hololens.

Complete the hardware includes a sturdy and well designed texture to it, along with the cushioning and modification mechanisms have a nice and expensive finish. The glass appears quite clear and is not too moldy to select up the hologram, if you’re wearing the unit while it is off, it is just like wearing a set of heavy, clear glasses. The unit is relatively comfortable, but even after some usage I never actually reach the stage that I forget I am wearing it, so you are not going to go searching for the Hololens and discover that it was on your head the whole time.

The video quality of the unit is quite good and it does not feel pixelated or framey when utilizing it in the majority of applications. It does not have the outstanding visual characteristic that the HTC Vive does, however, it is a totally different beast and contains got the fidelity of the true world to judge. The thing that I think was impressive in the experience perspective was that the sound. The unit has a little halo speaker which encircles the consumer’s head and gives quite realistic 3d soundscapes. The speakers can also be shockingly directional.

When I had been watching a co-worker utilize the Hololens it had been totally silent and I believed there was no sound, when I place it on there was so much of a soundscape happening in the app which I had a hard time hearing people talk about me. The sound is really sharp, higher fidelity and also has a great 360 texture to it. One really cool feature is the fact that it maps the room which you’re in and intelligently displays the holograms so that they are only visible if they are not blocked. Our office has numerous large structural columns inside, and if I put an object on a table and proceeded to the other side of a pillar, it had been blocked from view.

Utilizing the unit for the very first time had a tiny learning curve. The gestures that you will need to control it are rather specific and not as easy to master as I expected they’d be. The home screen gesture would be your hit or miss for me personally. It takes you to make a gesture like you’re completing a specially impressive sleight of hand magic trick, and also the Hololens does not feel that I make that gesture with enough feeling. One of the better implemented features is the fact that it reacts to voice commands and within my testing is really accurate. We have even incorporated that feature into some of the evaluation games that we have been building… more on this later.

Robo Raid and getting things completed

The Hololens is still very far in it’s infancy and there aren’t a lot of games available, however there are some out there and they bode well for the near future of AR games. The very first game that I tried was Robo Raid and it is a robot shooting home defense match. When you first launch the sport, it scans the room which you’re maps and in the furniture and walls. When the game starts, robots begin to break through the walls and attack you from fissures that they produce. It’s a good look to the effect along with the overlay appeared realistic in the distance I was in. It was marginally less impactful whenever the robots were breaking the windows in the office as if it had been stone, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

I had been playing Robo Raid in a 3000 sq/ft room and it managed to correctly map all it from me simply standing off to one side and looking about. The first robots that it spawned were near me however after the first few waves that they began to spawn clear across the office and that I found myself having to walk around the office a bit to fend off the robot cabal.

Hololens also features an offering of expansion apps to try out and it is an intriguing tool from a practical perspective. If you want to utilize it, Hololens is essentially a windows pc on your face. It allows you to launch programs and place the window which appears facing you anywhere you would like around your area. After put the window remains persistent and stays in place to be used until it is closed or transferred. It is very easy to make your desk to a digital mothership with displays crowding each corner. I managed to get some productive situations going, with pages and apps sitting next to each other and moving them about as I had been using them but for the most part it seems like the sensible case for replacing your laptop is still a few revs away.

Bring out your dead

BLI is a business focused on developing new adventures, we’re not going to have a hololens about for long before we begin programming for it. Hololens has a pretty well developed set of instruction on how to access the various sensors and features. We were quickly able to make a build that incorporated the room communication, voice recognition and gesture controllers. We were able to make a easy zombie match in under a day.

When you begin the match three zombies are intentionally made from the area and start coming toward you. It is possible to shoot the zombies by looking at them together with all the reticle and creating the click on gesture. Whenever you have taken good care of all of the attackers, you can muster more by stating “zombies” while the app is still open. Along with generally coming to get you, the mapping in the hololens means that the zombies need to walk around pillars and doorways to come and catch you, that is a really cool addition to a match similar to this and actually opens up possibilities for creating adventures in the Hololens feel much more genuine and urgent.


Hololens — Summon that the Zombies

We were also able to generate a RC car racing sport. This app also employed the room mapping and you can drive the car around the room when bumping into or avoiding the various real world challenges of your area. We got a little fancy the more we played it and began setting up actual world jumps for the car to discuss. Turns out after a bit rigging it worked and we were able to acquire the car to jump over an Apple Retina screen box which we’d make to a ramp. With a little work we could turn this office into a pretty boss virtual RC car monitor.

AR for the masses?

Hololens is easily the most compelling AR experience I have seen so far. It really does a fantastic job of taking your distance and turn it into a digital environment, primed for anything which you’re trying to do with it. There are nevertheless a few flaws, but the view angle is so small, the battery life requires some work and it would not hurt to enhance the images processing a little bit, but ultimately it is a compelling tool which has a ton of promise.

Refreshingly, programmer tools are nicely implemented and ensure it is feasible to dive in and produce something on this stage. We have been loving the Hololens at the office and are certainly looking forward to what we produce and what is published in the not too distant future. Keep checking for Hololens upgrades and sneak off at the programs we’re building. Stay virtual my pals.


Microsoft Hololens