For a time, the world of augmented reality was reserved for the fever dreams of video game developers. Perhaps not in the way it’s being defined now, but augmented reality was generally represented as stats, pointers, location based notifications and motion tracking in heads-up-displays (HUD) for video game characters designed mainly for first person shooters. The idea that gamers could continue to be mobile and interactive with their environment while streaming stats and measurements that, traditionally would have divided their attention and vision turned a great fantasy feature into a must have an aspect of gaming.
Thanks to work from the folks behind Ingress and Pokémon Go, consumers are once again being dealt another narrative on what augmented reality can and should be used for that includes environmental and location based handheld gaming.
However, Microsoft has a wholly different story to pitch regarding augmented reality and its less about gaming (although that plays a part) and more about extending everyday activates by way of infusing them with greater information density and focus.
The site UPLOAD has compiled a list of five Microsoft-powered augmented reality demos using its AR headset, HoloLens.
The potential of HoloLens and the augmented reality industry as a whole, are no better demonstrated than with these ever-increasing demos of using AR to enhance productivity, entertainment or education.
First up is, using HoloLens for the seemingly mundane act of gardening. Perhaps, a little ho-hum for tech enthusiast, HoloLens takes the simple act of gardening and turns it into a gaming like experience.
Speaking of gaming, Microsoft’s HoloLens may end the need for a dedicated gaming console, room or TV set, as the headset can display games across any surface or environment. Judging from the video demo, gaming on a HoloLens headset combines the gameplay of dedicated console game with the mobility of casual gaming, a sort of pick up and play anywhere experience.
The next video introduces a significant functionality for those looking to market themselves while also bringing to life a long-lived science fiction fantasy trope, the floating signage. In the future, we were sold that walls, mirrors, windows and any other viewable surface would be home to floating customized ads for people. We’ll Microsoft’s HoloLens does a version of that by allowing individuals or businesses to craft their marketing signage while viewing exactly how it will be displayed on a surface. Gone are the days of creating a logo or sign in 2D applications on desktops and hoping it translates in the world. Now people or businesses can go to a location and design their logo on the spot, taking into account shadow patterns, reflection, or foot traffic.
Once again, Microsoft is pitching the HoloLens as an educational tool, but this time, for more hands-on endeavors. With floating menus and sheet music, musicians can now add an overlay of digital instructions to help guide piano (presumably more instruments could be enabled) lessons.
Lastly, HoloLens is expanding beyond the educational, commercial or medical uses its currently being crafted for and adding the world of cinematic entertainment to its list of uses. Combined with body mapping technology, the HoloLens can stream movement data in real time and redistribute the image in an actual environment. Once again, HoloLens takes what used to be desktop crafted activities and applies centers them in the real world, eliminating several middle-man steps.
Whether or not general consumers will see any of these demos come to market remains a question. Currently, Microsoft has positioned the HoloLens as purely a commercial play for adoption. With a price tag of $3,000 and no sign of a consumer focus in the way app development (thus far) it may be some time before HoloLens can help reshape the narrative around what Augmented Reality is and should be going forward.
Further reading: AR, Augmented Reality, HoloLens, Microsoft, Pokemon Go