Have you heard of or seen the Microsoft HoloLens? It is a mixed reality (MR) headset that allows holograms to be displayed on top of the world around you. I will be using it during my research project at Designability, and over the next week I will be borrowing one from one of my supervisors. It's quite a new piece of kit that has mainly been used in a technical or industrial setting, so, I thought you might like to take a look at.
Keep reading to find out what the HoloLens looks like, and what I can see when I am using it!
Looking From the Outside In
Here's what the HoloLens looks like out-of-the-box.
And this is what I look like when wearing it.
It's quite a chunky piece of hardware at the moment, but it's also really cool! That said, I do look a little strange looking around the office tapping things in midair that other people cannot see...
It will take time for MR headsets to become normalised in society. In their current state, they will only be used in specific situations. Despite this, the scope for applications is broad and I look forward to seeing what I can do with it.
Looking From the Inside Out
Now that you've seen what it looks like, I'm sure you'd like to know what it can do.
Since it is really just a computer, what you can see and do with it on is very familiar if you are a Windows user. Here are some windows, a web browser and the Windows Store.
You interact with the windows using so-called gestures. You air tap (literally tapping the air in front of you) to select, and bloom (raising your hand and opening it like a flower) to open the main menu; elegantly simple, in my opinion, once you get used to it.
I have been making some small applications to test how easily they can be made, and I have recorded a short video of what I have come up with so far, based on this tutorial. Check out how I select the application from the menu screen, interact with the holograms I have put together using voice and gestures, and then stop the video with the bloom gesture. (Click the link if you do not see a video!)
My app doesn't do much at the moment, but I still think it's cool!
How Will This Help People Living with Dementia?
That's a good question! The answer at this stage is, "We don't know". But, that is what my research project will hope to discover.
The HoloLens is probably not suitable for people living with dementia, but, without giving too much away at this early stage, I will be exploring how holograms, like the ones in the video above, might assist someone with things like making a cup of tea or turning on the television.
There are lots of avenues to explore, and I will share more on my blog when I have been able to get closer to an answer to the above question.
I hope this little introduction to the HoloLens has been interesting and I look forward to sharing future applications with you!