Since when Microsoft announced HoloLens, we wondered what the possible applications were.
The Redmond company has already experienced, with the failure of Lumia smartphones, an important thing. In fact, Microsoft understands that even if the hardware is high quality and the operating system is efficient if you do not offer compelling applications, the system is going to fail.
So let’s see what are the first proposals for this new platform.
Currently, HoloLens applications cover various areas. These areas are video games, teaching, communications, design, entertainment, and video.
Are these applications that will allow you to jump to success?
Let’s look at it by analyzing some of the ones on the store.
Skype: You can connect with your friends, family, and colleagues and they can see what you see and interact with your holograms. Collaborate with others and make decisions more effectively using Skype to draw and embed images in the space around you. Get instructions without distracting you. Keep your hands free to work on real-world projects while being helped by a friend or colleague.
I do not think that the usual Skype user can benefit from HoloLens. I also do not think it is useful to see the images of the interlocutors on the walls. I see more advantages when you have to give remote instructions. In this case, the interlocutor can draw holograms of lines, arrows, and various indications to provide his remote help.
Interesting is the technology still being studied “Holoportation”. This allows the user to see people far away thousands of miles, reproduced in 3D in his home. These talk and move in front of us. There is also the ability to record the conversation and then revisit it in the form of holograms of the size we want.
HoloTour: the application that lets you travel unlimitedly with a personal guide. For example, you can find yourself in Rome, immersed in Piazza Navona as if you were there. You can visit the Coliseum as it is today or go back in time and attend gladiator fights. The application provides the traveler with views and animations that no tourist can ever see in the real world. This is almost an application of pure virtual reality because it is able to make the experience very immersive. For now, you can only visit Rome and the Machu Picchu (and that’s not a small thing!) but the future potential is enormous. This is the future of archaeology because it provides otherwise impossible experiences.
Land Of Dinosaurs: The End of Jurassic Park! We have dinosaurs in the house.You can face dinosaurs. An educational experience thanks to virtual reality. Graphics and animations are not exceptional. The sound is great.Galaxy Explorer Object: The study of the solar system. You can magnify the planets, sun or see the entire galaxy as a whole.Star and planet enthusiasts can see nearby planets in 3D and gather information. For now, it seems a bit limited. Microsoft has made source code available for anyone who wants to study it or extend it!
HoloAnatomy: the study of the human body by analyzing the holograms of the various layers. It can be seen from the epidermis to the internal organs. There is no interaction but it is only on an educational level.A great application for the study of the human body.
Fragments: An investigative game to live in person. You are the detective and your home is the crime scene. Your role is to help a team solve the case.
The game is really innovative and is the first example of movie-style gaming. You can live this movie as a protagonist. As impressive as your detective colleagues sit in your living room. It is very impressive how the scene of the crime is recreated in your home.
Young Conker: a platform game that transforms real room furniture, floors and walls into the scenery of an adventure. A nice game that integrates into the surrounding environment, ensuring a certain variety. The same level of play becomes different in a different room. The game changes even if you change the layout of the furniture.
Robo Raid: Aliens enter your room producing realistic holes in the wall. Some of the enemies flies, others walk on the walls. You must aim and shoot them. If you miss your shot, it will damage your home wall. Fortunately, everything comes back as before when you leave the game. It is one of the games that have been most successful. It blends together the key points of mixed reality and the fast action in combat.
Actiongram: allows new forms of narration. You can move, resize, rotate, and record animated holograms in your home. You can also create videos (with holograms) that you can share with your friends. This is an application that leaves room for creativity. The user becomes a creator and video director by placing holograms in the real world to film scenes that would otherwise be impossible. Videos can be shared online. There are many holograms to choose from (such as Warcraft characters) and others coming in. Each one can be used in various ways, with lots of animations and audio effects. To get a taste of what Actiongram can do, Microsoft commissioned videos at A.Todd’s Bellpond Films:
Holograms: We can position the available holograms in different fixed points of the room. We can also resize them and rotate them as desired. Everything remains anchored to the environment in the positions we chose whether it’s a wall, ceiling or floor. In a short time, we can make our room populated by animals, gymnasts, spacecraft, and so on. I think it might be a cute game at first but with a very short longevity.
HoloQuarium: We transform the room into an aquarium with the fish and plants of the desired size. We can rotate the new underwater world, spin around and see it from within. Those who love aquariums know that this is their ideal world in which they dream of being able to enter. HoloLens makes this possible without even getting wet. I think this application, too, has little longevity.
Arails: Creates rails for trains and roller coaster with the ability to include UFOs (?). Cute for those who have the passion for trains but it does not seem to me to be a must-have application.
HoloStudio: Provides a suite of tools to create your own holograms. You can share the holograms with your friends. A suite that provides a holographic tool case to build objects with gestures. These holographic instruments are like real-world instruments. You can create holograms and transform them into physical objects by printing them in 3D. How can we build complex 3D models in this way is to be verified. I suspect that the “old” PC remains even more useful for professionals.
Hologarage: application for mechanics. Provides technical information on car models. Useful during diagnosis and repair (to know the paths of the cables, bolts measurements, etc.). I find it hard to think of a mechanic who uses HoloLens to carry out maintenance on a car. However, with the sophisticated technology of modern cars, a help may be helpful.
In conclusion, the applications supply for Hololens is still immature. That is understandable since this is an emerging technology. Some applications are interesting, others will have much less success than “Minesweeper”. Let’s not forget that this technology requires the use of glasses. Historically glasses have never been much appreciated by the public. Consider that HoloLens have a weight that begins to feel after 30–40 minutes of use. Hopefully, the available applications will be more and more convincing. Only then will the users overcome the wall represented by the discomfort of the glasses.
Let’s see what happens…
Francesco Pallotta is a senior software engineer expert in software design and development. He works in the field of Space and Defense and deals with application development techniques for virtual reality and augmented reality.