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Smartwatch concept features a mini HoloLens on your wrist

The idea of wearing a Microsoft HoloLens device on your head during everyday tasks doesn’t seem like a fun idea. After all, the current version seems to be slightly more clunky and heavier than the everyday baseball cap. However, Digital Media Labs feels they might have a solution to adding augmented reality to common use through a new smartwatch concept (via PSFK.) In collaboration with Google and Hasselt University, the concept of the Watch Thru smartwatch is to add what they call a transparent 3D hologram window on the device.

Watch Thru detects what to display through the movement of the wrist. When a user glances down to their watch to view a notification, it will display if it was high priority without the need to move their wrist. Furthermore, depending on how the wrist is placed in conjunction with your view, you’ll be able to enable secondary perspective for general use and ‘peek through’ mode for a higher detailed AR experience. Unfortunately, since there currently isn’t a way to monitor the user’s view on the watch, it seems to be causing problems:

Given that the display is not co-located with the user’s eyes, any AR experience need to account for the user’s viewpoint. This makes WatchThru more challenging to calibrate than video see-through systems, where camera, tracking and display are combined. For peek-through AR, tracking of device and user’s head are not yet solved in a practical way. In addition to perspective tracking with on-device sensing, tracking the user’s head to calculate the field of view could be realized with front-facing cameras…

As seen in the video, the Watch Thru could be used for a variety of purposes such as interacting with the environment by visuals, checking the status of electronics, studying real models with AR overlays, giving directions, and other uses that HoloLens has exhibited in the past.

It is obvious the idea is still only in the concept stage. For one, wearing a watch with a protruding object hanging off of it might interfere with casual life. The window would eventually need to hinge onto the watch to be more efficient, which is actually addressed in the full concept proposal. However, it is a step towards using augmented reality for practical consumers, and that’s worth checking out.

Let us know what you think about the Watch Thru in the comments below or tweet us @OnMSFT.

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Will Watch Thru become the common man's HoloLens?