Posey's Tips & Tricks

Using Microsoft Hololens, Revisited

While the hardware might not have changed much since last year, the experience has definitely been improved.

About a year ago, I wrote a post in which I described my first ever experience with using Microsoft Hololens. To paraphrase my experiences, Hololens was impressive, but felt like a device that was still in development.

At this year's Microsoft Ignite, I was given the opportunity to try out Hololens once again. I have to confess that at first I considered skipping the demo. I had a million different things going on that day, and taking a ten minute timeout to play with Hololens felt slightly irresponsible. Besides, it wasn't as if I had never worn a Hololens before. Ultimately, however, curiosity got the better of me. I was curious to find out if the demo that I received in Canada last year was truly representative of the device's capabilities.

To the best of my knowledge, Microsoft has not made any significant changes to the Hololens hardware. As such, I have to assume that the Hololens device that I tried out in Orlando a few weeks ago was essentially identical to the one that I used in Ottawa last year. Even so, the experiences could not have been more different.

When I used the Hololens in Ottawa, the 3D effect was really good, but the holograms weren't quite what I expected. The color of the holographic images was somewhat washed out, but I attributed that to being in a brightly lit room with sunshine beaming in the window. Beyond that, however, the image quality was OK at best. Unfortunately, I don't have a screen capture that I can share with you, but the graphics reminded me of some of the video games from the early 2000s. The graphics were definitely good enough to get by on, but nobody was going to mistake any of the holograms for real physical objects.

The main thing that I found lacking about my experience with the Hololens in Ottawa last year was that the vertical field of view wasn't very large. Horizont       ally, the field of view was about what I would have expected from such a device, but vertically, the field of view was abruptly cut off at the top and bottom.

The demo that I saw at Ignite 2017 completely changed my opinion of Hololens. One of the vendors in the expo hall (I wish I could remember which one) was demonstrating how Hololens could be used as a sales tool by allowing potential customers to interact with a holographic version of a product, when using a real product would be impractical. In this case, the demonstration involved a big, heavy, piece of industrial machinery.

When the demo started, the person who was giving the demonstration asked me to put on the Hololens and look at a table. As I did, I wondered when the holograms were going to appear.  Admittedly, I was severely sleep deprived at the time, so I may not have been having my "A" game that day, but it took me a few seconds to realize that one of the objects on the table (an industrial machine) was not real. The Hololens' display was so good that I legitimately had trouble distinguishing between a holographic image and a real object. Sure, there were some tell tale signs, but in those first few seconds, the hologram looked completely real.

So what about the vertical field of view? I honestly don't know if Microsoft has made a change to the Hololens hardware, if perhaps there is a difference between the Hololens devices being sold in Canada and those being sold in America, or if the Hololens that I used at Ignite was better adjusted to my vision than the one that I used in Canada. Whatever the reason, the vertical field of view didn't seem to be an issue. Sure, it was still possible to lose sight of the hologram by looking up or down, but the field of view did not seem to be nearly as limiting as what I had previously experienced.

In any case, I found the Hololens demo at Ignite 2017 to be very impressive. The demo showed me beyond any shadow of a doubt that the device had capabilities that far exceeded anything that I had previously experienced. To put it another way, the Hololens experience was nothing short of amazing.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 16-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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