November 11, 2016
OST is often keeping an eye on the horizon for our clients, allowing us to think about what is next. One of the more interesting technologies recently has been in the world of 3D and Mixed Reality. By now, most people are familiar with the concept of Virtual Reality (VR). VR is a technology that allows you to explore and interact with an entirely computer generated 3D environment. It is an immersive experience that has seen a lot of enthusiasm with advances in technology. Similarly, Mixed Reality can view and interact with 3D objects, but different from VR, objects come into your physical space as a hologram. With this technology, you could be working on your actual car while a 3D mechanic could diagnose the car and show you how to fix it. Science fiction? This technology is a lot closer than you may realize.
Microsoft recently released a device called the HoloLens – a self-contained, holographic computer that allows 3D graphic images to interact with your physical space. The device is worn like a pair of goggles. They also feel pretty light, weighing just 1.3 lbs. Users are able to look through the lenses unobstructed and interact with people and physical objects as they would normally. 3D holographic images are projected in high definition onto the lenses, becoming part of our physical environment. Users can interact with these holograms through hand gestures and voice commands, adding to this Mixed Reality experience.
To accomplish this in a way that feels very realistic, the HoloLens is equipped with a suite of sensors and processing power including:
- Inertial measurement unit
- Depth camera, 4 Room mapping cameras, 1 HD video camera
- 4 Microphones
- CPU, GPU, and HPU (holographic processing unit)
- Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Essentially, it is a fully functioning Windows 10 computer you wear on your head that creates interactive holograms! This type of technology opens up a brand new avenue for human and computer interaction. This can used for industrial and manufacturing work, healthcare, education, gaming and entertainment in a way that truly bridges the physical and digital world. The true magic of using this device is not just seeing 3D holograms, but in how those holograms are aware of and interact with your physical environment. HoloLens is constantly scanning and mapping your surroundings to understand the space, which impacts the holograms. With the advances in Mixed Reality paired with Artificial Intelligence, a new world of possibility is opening up for smart, assistive, and immersive software.
As we have been playing and learning with the HoloLens at OST, it has been amazing to see just how polished and natural the device and its programs feel. We have been able to litter our office with interactive holograms, explore our galaxy, and shoot lasers at robots busting through the walls.