So imagine you are working on co-creating a physical product with people from all over the world. Now, you want to explain to your co-creators how you would like to adjust some attributes of the product. But since their not physically near you, explaining exactly what you mean would be considered hard by most.
What if there was some way to see a model of your product right in front of you, your co-creators had the same model in front of them and you would all be able to work on it real-time?
Microsoft Hololens: The future of Co-creation
Microsoft is working on a first example of how this might look in real-life with the Hololens. This ‘holographic computer’, which you wear like something in between a helmet and a pair of ski-goggles, upgrades your reality with HD holograms for you to work with or manipulate. And if you think this is still science fiction, think again! The Hololens is available for developers as of this quarter.
According to an article by Billinghurst and Kato (2002) in the Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) augmented reality provides collaborators with the ability to enhance reality, by interacting with both real and virtual environments.
Although most people seem to agree that this technology isn’t quite there yet, everyone can see the promise it brings. Reviews of the Microsoft Hololens praise it for the high build quality and great resolution of the holograms. Also Microsoft embedded spatial sound technology into the Hololens, so users can hear sounds from specific directions. Another big plus of this next-level computer is the fact that your hands are no longer on a keyboard or mouse, but your free to interact with your augmented environment and walk through your models. Computing seems to stop being a sit-down experience.
As earlier mentioned were not quite there yet, and certain aspects might be improved in the future. The battery life is somewhat of a question mark, as this is a wireless computer. This could possibly be resolved by using wireless charging technologies. The price of a developer’s kit is with a rumoured $3000 quite expensive for personal use, for commercial use this might be feasible. Another point of improvement is the viewing plane of the Hololens. Sometimes bigger holograms aren’t fully visible within your view, but extent to outside your viewing range. This is mentioned in multiple reviews and doesn’t seem to be easily resolvable without altering the design of the Hololens.
All in all a very impressive first try from Microsoft, certainly in comparison with the earlier released Google Glass. Other companies will probably jump at this technology in the following years, and I for one am really intrigued with what this might bring for us in our day-to-day work and personal lives. See this video for an example of how Volvo might use this technology:
(2002). Collaborative Augmented Reality. COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM, 45 (7)..