Microsoft Design combines Fluent, “welcome” UX, and HoloLens with Lunar Module sample app

Dave W. Shanahan

Microsoft, Fluent Design, HoloLens, Windows 10

In a post on Medium, Microsoft Mixed Reality Creative Director, Jonathan Wiedemann describes what it is like to be a part of the “Designing Windows Mixed Reality” project, which serves as a guide for holographic head-mounted displays like the HoloLens.

Recently, Wiedemann notes that the Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Design Labs teams recently released an open-source sample app for HoloLens called Lunar Module. Lunar Module was inspired by the Atari classic game Lunar Lander, but this time, the game is made for HoloLens. Lunar Module explores the input capabilities of the HoloLens, specifically the use of gestures, Xbox controllers, ‘welcome’ UX for spatial apps, and Fluent design.

At this time, Lunar Module is only available for HoloLens, other Windows Mixed Reality headsets may get access to the HoloLens app at a later date. While using HoloLens gestures or an Xbox controller is not very interesting, the use of Microsoft’s Fluent Design System is.

The use of the Fluent Design System allows the Mixed Reality Design Labs team to include depth, materials, and lighting to Lunar Module while still utilizing the new augmented reality of HoloLens.

  • Depth. Incorporating depth in the main concept and interaction was easy. Other aspects were less obvious. For menus, layouts, and objects that could have been 2D, we took advantage of parallax, Z axis, and variable depth. An example (in the tutorial section) is the hands that demonstrate gestures are closer to you than the module, which is 3D itself.
  • Materials. In Fluent, materials are sensory and invigorating. Lucky for us, our game takes place on the moon, so we could have fun designing textures inspired by glowy, sci-fi, backlit arcade games and, of course, the more tactile actual moonscape and NASA’s moon lander. Plus a little bit of programmatic dithering on some screens to provide that low-fi, retro arcade feel.
  • Light. We used light as a practical tool to convey information, as well as to provide atmosphere in the game. The light from the landing pad beam, for example, helps direct you to where should land the module, then changes color to let you know if you’re coming in too fast or about to land successfully. We also light only part of the ground to reveal the moon texture as you gaze around, because we found that showing your entire room with the moon texture became distracting.

Mixed Reality Design Labs has plenty of open-source scripts and prefabs for Lunar Module available on GitHub.