Vision of the Future
Announcing for a long time a breakthrough with a new invention, promising to bring us the future into our daily lives, Microsoft had presented HoloLens in 2015. Microsoft HoloLens is a virtual reality headset with transparent lenses for an augmented reality experience.
It is similar to VR goggles, but HoloLens adds holograms to the world around you. Wearing HoloLens, you see the real world and real objects from your environment, but that real world is transformed. How? With different 3D objects, virtual screens and characters that are placed all around you. Those virtual objects you can see, hear and interact with.
It is described as “the most advanced holographic computer”. There is no need for connection to a PC because it is self-contained. When you put them on, the goggles will track your movements, watch your gaze and reconstruct what you see by blasting light into your eyes.
Enrich Your Horizons
Microsoft HoloLens has no intention to transport you to a world of wonders but to bring those wonders directly to your real life. HoloLens’ level of immersion enables new forms of computing in which the user’s PC desktop could be for example the wall in a living room.
You could read the recipe for dinner on your cupboard while cutting vegetables. Or play a board game without even owning all those cardboard boxes and wooden figures. Your spouse will have more room in their closet that way, so it is a win-win situation.
From the perspective of a HoloLens wearer, it is a vast world full of miraculous items and characters around you. From the standpoint of the observer, you just wear goofy eyeglasses. If there are two of you wearing a headset, then it is a party – both of you can be in the same world and see same 3D objects. You can communicate and give high-fives to each other. But, if you don’t want to share all of the things there are, you don’t have to. Great, right?
Watch Your Steps
As a HoloLens wearer, you can safely walk around the room without worrying about bumping into walls or other people. The thing is, you are wearing real transparent glasses, and holograms are just a part of your reality, not the whole reality.
VR glasses cut you out from the real world, and you have no idea where are you moving and when will you hit something or somebody in the room. The HoloLens goggles have a camera that looks and scans the room, so HoloLens will place 3D objects on top or even inside real physical objects making them aware of surroundings.
Observing and Interacting
Different hardware help to make HoloLens’ effect feel believable. Sensors track your movements in a room and along with that information and layers of coloured glass create images you can interact with or observe from different angles.
For example, if you are a medicine student and want to understand the anatomy of the human brain better? No problem, just put on the HoloLens and walk around the 3D view of it. Or, you are performing a demanding operation. Your senior colleague can easily, from his Skype on a tablet, access camera on HoloLens you are wearing and exactly draw you what to do next. As you can see, the advantages of using HoloLens in the future can reach very, very far.
HoloLens in Games
Is there an aspect of our lives that HoloLens will not have an influence on? Education, science, communication, shopping, traffic, travel, entertainment. What about gaming?
The first example of mixed reality gaming was presented with Minecraft. In the version of that game which is designed for HoloLens, you can project maps on a physical table just by saying the words ‘create the world’. Then, you can play with items with your hands. What is special is that you can watch and participate in the same game that your friends are playing via their PCs. Of course, you are way much cooler watching them from above.
HoloLens Project X-Ray showcases mixed reality technology. A first-person shooter defends himself from robot enemies using weapons. That project turned into a game called RoboRaid. There are a few more good HoloLens games along with RoboRaid. Fragments, detective crime thriller where you use your room as a crime scene and solve cases. Or Vivo, a game where the player takes control of a spaceship and fights against enemies. Trying all of these games one day will be exciting.
Imagine one day, when you feel like playing games, you just put HoloLens and find yourself trapped in your own house, finding a way out. All the necessary accessories are holograms so that you can play any scenario in any room alone or with your friends. Does this sound like a far-reaching future? Or is that future already happening?
One thing is sure, game development for HoloLens has a bright future. There are a lot of exciting possibilities; it is up to us to wait for Microsoft to reveal all their cards.
What to Consider While Developing HoloLens Games
Combining Real and Holographic World
HoloLens is a revolutionary gadget and creating content for it will require equally innovative ideas. Creating HoloLens games is a demanding venture. But, don’t be afraid, Microsoft already partnered with Unity which is the familiar platform of choice for many game developers. Unity solves a lot of issues straight out of the box and gives you a head start in the development of your next big thing. Unity engine will solve some problems, but building games that are games traditionally and at the same time placing them in a real environment – that’s really tricky. HoloLens game development gives a lot of possibilities, but it can also give a lot of headaches. It is a part of HoloLens games charm, we could say.
First, you need to elaborate a plan how to integrate your game with the real world. Use walls, tables, chairs, ceilings, etc. But, take care of limited view of HoloLens and make games within that characteristic. Unique strengths like limited gesture control, voice recognition and player gaze is something to rely on and highlight through HoloLens games.
Spatial Mapping and Testing
Spatial mapping is important because it is the core that blends the real and the holographic world. Your 3D objects and characters have to be aware of real objects so that they can easily navigate through the room. For example, if your hologram is a dog, you need to make him run and jump around your living room furniture, not to smash into a sofa. Spatial mapping is actually all information HoloLens has about the real environment for use in a holographic world. You can check more about spatial mapping in this video.
After developing HoloLens games, the story is not quite done yet. You spend a lot of time thinking how to incorporate your holographic objects into a real environment. But, be aware that the space for which the game was created will not be the only one where the game will be played. User experience is the most important thing, so reducing errors and bugs in HoloLens games is important. Testing and debugging phases will be long and challenging. Make sure that your HoloLens games are tested in as many different physical environments as possible so that at the end of the day you have an outstanding and error-free product.
We live in a world of future. Things that seemed centuries away are here to amaze us. Virtual worlds, weird characters and outlandish environments are known to every video gamer. There is nothing strange about it. But, novelties that Microsoft HoloLens presents are revolutionary. All of the elements of video games are here, with you, in the same room, jumping around you, interacting with you. It makes you wonder – how is that even possible? Am I in some sort of an SF movie?
This road that Microsoft is leading us on wants to change the way we interact with computers. It intends to make this interaction more natural and raise it to the next level.
It is surely a fascinating piece of new technology with unlimited potential. Let’s sit comfortably and wait to see what the next thing about HoloLens will be.