Thursday, January 21, 2016



Hololens allowed everyone to share their ideas for Hololens projects. Then Microsoft picked three. Beginning at 12 PM Pacific (3 PM NY) for 24 hours anyone can vote on which demo MS will execute (and share the development process).

The FINALISTS are here:

Here's my take:

I am somewhat disappointed in the 3 projects selected for possible development, as they make only basic use of only a few of the capabilities of the Hololens.

GALAXY EXPLORER has (potentially) the most interesting content, but makes little use of the essential/unique properties of the Hololens. In particular. It only uses the fact that the space you are in has walls, and that you are untethered.  There is little or nothing in this project that could not be done as well with any powerful VR system (including a tethered Rift – with virtual motion).

AIRQUARIUM also uses only the untethered property of the Hololens, and that in a limited way: it almost requires the space to be free of obstacles that could be a tripping hazard. Robotic or even autonomous fish are possible in any VR system; since the fish are computer generated, info about the fish is not really AR: any VR system can deliver info about objects it has generated. Now, if this App worked in a REAL aquarium, allowing you to “interact” with REAL fish (eg that swim into your virtual space or which you could “dissect” as they swim) that would be more of a demo of unique Hololens attributes. The best thing about this project is the name.

GRAB THE IDOL (which has the worst name) is an uninspired game.  It does make the best use of the real space in which it is played. Everything else depends on the quality of the game design, puzzle creation and visual effects (and finding a better name).

GALAXY EXPLORER showcases the ability of the Hololens to manage and use a huge database of information with a visual user interface.  AIRQUARIUM showcases the ability of the Hololens to create virtual creatures that interact with the user. GRAB THE IDOL showcases the ability of the Hololens to create a fictional interactive overlay on a complex real space. But while these projects showcase specific features, they do not (on the face of the descriptions given) really do credit to the full range of the Hololens’ unique combination of features. Also, these projects all seem aimed at grade-school aged children (though implementation could make the content as advanced as desired). None seem designed as directly suggestive of business applications.

Some of the features of the Hololens used by these applications are:
Spatial mapping
Spatial audio

Voice control
Gaze control
Gesture control

Creation of images and text placed in the mapped space
Creation of high quality images
Interaction (eg IMU) with the virtual images
Accessing a (local or possibly remote) large database of information

Some of the features that are not used are:

The ability to send real information about a space to a remote user
The ability of two or more users, local or remote, to interact with each other
The ability to identify and provide information about real objects
The use of audio or video recording or streaming
Complex features of Cortana
The ability of generated creatures to interact with moving objects or real (live) creatures
The ability to create autonomous interacting creatures more complex than fish
The ability to create really interesting, fun applications
The ability to do complex tasks where a complex series of features are required for implementation
The ability to navigate between tasks
The use of a GPS for location specific tasks
The ability to use the Hololens to create art, drama, music …
The ability to do useful, interesting, unique commercial work such as
              Virtual shopping
              Virtual selling
              Office tasks
              Unstructured searching and research
              Product development
The fact that the Hololens is attractive and futuristic
The very fact that wearing the Hololens is a “fashion” “lifestyle” statement

The problems with the three selected applications are that (a) they are all similar in their target audience (b) use features of the Hololens that can for the most part be replicated in other VR and AR systems and (c) are not on their face obviously importantly useful, compelling, or really fun.

Of the applications, GALAXY EXPLORER and AIRQUARIUM have some very interesting features, but they do not show off enough of what makes the Hololens important and unique, so I’ll have to pick GRAB THE IDOL, the game, partly because we know the least about it, so it can be most easily improved.   It does use a distinct feature of the Hololens, the ability to map the app onto a random space.  Perhaps the specific challenges in the game when programmed will be fun, and illustrate lots of features of the Hololens. In fact, since this game is open ended, specific challenges could incorporate the features of well-designed autonomous creatures from AIRQUARIUM; the large database and visual data interface from GALAXY EXPLORER; and task navigation (by selecting the order of challenges to tackle). I’d also recommend (and hope the project adds):  (a) A NAME CHANGE! and (b) multiplayer (even remote) features.

The official Hololens site is:

The Hololens YouTube Channel is:

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