October 28, 2015
I got to attend a Hololens demo in Chicago today.
It started with a brief “orientation” where they showed a video how to wear the device and adjust the headset, they took a PD (pupil distance) measurement, mine is 67.5 if you’re wondering. They say PD measurement and adjustment will be automatic on the production device, but for now it’s manual.
I got to play the project X-Ray game shown a few weeks ago at the Windows Devices event. Unfortunately my experiance didn’t include the controller used in the on stage demo, or the awesome sword arm. Take a look at this video so you know what I’m talking about.
Let’s start with a disclaimer. They said the device I used was a prototype, and lots of things could change.
There’s a area of your vision where holograms can be projected. They wouldn’t give me numbers and it’s hard to say exactly, but I’d guess it covers an area about the same size as my 24” monitors at normal working distances.
The field of view was noticible at first, but as soon as aliens started popping out of the wall I really didn’t notice it much. I had been considering applications for Hololens where informaiton would be on the periphery of your vision (basicaly a IRL video game HUD), but Hololens’ field of view would likley force any holograms into the center of your vision to be usable.
The Project X-Ray game, and most of the other Hololens demo videos, use an “air click” gesture where you make a fist, point your index finger straigt up, then while keeping your index finger straigt touch it to your thumb. The Hololens does have WiFi and Bluetooth, so I could see adding a Wiimote style controller for extra control.
I found this to be a slightly ackward gesture, but more importantly Hololens seems to have a limit to how quick of gestures it can recognize. They said the game had a half-second “reload”, but I wonder how much of that is a hardware limitation.
It did have lots of good things.
The demo videos Microsoft has shown are pretty realistic. The graphics quality, framerate, and visual quality all are what I’d expect given the demo videos. The field of view was a bit supprising, but otherwise quite good.
The holograms aren’t lifelike. They have a distinct “made of light” feel that I can’t quite explain, but they definately feel like part of the world. Even when the X-Ray vision let me see the enimies crawling in the walls it just seemed right.
I only wore it for a few minutes, but it was light and comfortable. The adjustment was just barely large enough for my head, but it did fit. I didn’t wear it long enought to know if it would be comfortable for hours at a time, but I didn’t see any reason it wouldn’t.
At the beginning of the game, we went through a room learning process. Basically, it overlaid a glowing 3D mesh over the room. As I looked around the room it filled in the mesh until all of the walls were a triangular red mesh. The process was quick and simple.
The only glitch was that it saw my guide as part of the room. Later I was able to use the invisible person as a shield.
Sound was suprisingly good. It didn’t have any of the tiny speaker sound I was concerned about, while still allowing me to hear the real world around me.
It’s still a pre-V1 product, but it’s not like anything else I’ve seen. Unless there are some dramatic issues not visible in a short demo (battery life, performance in real rooms, hologram visbility in bright areas, etc.) I think there will be some great uses for it. I just need to think of one so I can talk myself into buying a dev unit early next year…
Written by Eric Haskins, maker of things.