With VR and the Oculus Rift taking centre stage and the Google Glasses project being put on hold, the HoloLens project announcement is that in-between solution, it will offer an augmented 3D world mixed with ‘the real live’ real-world. If the HoloLens project succeeds (and ends up looking anything like the CG embellished video below) Microsoft will shift to the top of the tech pops, and it will force the rest of the technology world take note. This will surely be one of Microsofts greatest modern day achievement and with the exciting release of Windows 10 to prop it up! I cant wait.
It seems like a natural extension of the Microsoft Kinect but instead of tracking you and your body movements, it tracks what is physically around you. This opens up the UX & Design development processes to create interactive software where the user will be at the centre of a fully immersive, interactive experience.
What does this mean for UX & Design
Wearable technology such as the HoloLens will have a major impact on user experience and design, with renewed focus on intricate visuals, animations, TV, motion graphics, 2D, 3D & typography.
Being able to see the ‘real’ world in-front of you with different intricate content overlaid, will provide a fully immersive experience for the user. The HoloLens also tracks where you are, it will also track your hand movements much like the current Kinect but you will be able to interact and manipulate objects at will. Collaborative working might never be the same again, its difficult to imagine the endless possibilities with such an interactive multi-dimensional headset that also has a forward facing camera built in as well. For those interested in gaming if the HoloLens if successful it could quite possibly kill the VR gaming experiences with a killer knockout blow. I predict a torrent of social gaming experiences ranging from animated 3D board games, to truly interactive Warhammer fantasy games, and think ‘Boom Beach’ in your living room directing armies of soldiers around your living room destroying things.
Only recently moving a cursor on a screen with a roller-ball mouse and keyboard was a pioneering and incredible achievement, now it seems that the next computing paradigm will be a different beast altogether in the business, social and gaming world. So all you UXers out there this will be another wearable piece of tech that leaves many user experiences and designs only to the imagination.
What does this mean for UX & Design
HoloLens has the potential to become an amazing platform for gaming, and Microsoft is announcing a key partnership to help that happen. It’s working with Unity Technologies to bring HoloLens support to the Unity game engine. That means that developers will be able to work with a capable and popular engine while creating games for the upcoming augmented-reality headset. Unity sells itself as more than a game engine — and certainly, it can be used for much, much, more.
Unity’s strategic technology VP, Steffen Toksvig, suggests that it expects to see the engine used for more than just games in a statement commenting on the partnership. HoloLens, he says, will allow developers to re-imagine everything from social networks to remote health care. “Our work will ensure a seamless and efficient development experience that takes full advantage of the unique features and capabilities of Microsoft HoloLens,” he says. Unity has already working with Microsoft to integrate its engine into Visual Studio, making this a pretty natural extension of the partnership.
In conclusion wearable tech is still very much in its infancy with a lot of unknowns, but brands that ignore this world changing, visual and interactive user experience will be left way behind. This is a potentially going to be a massive game changer for UX and developers pushing the digital world into a new era, we must strive for a greater more immersive user experience for all. The hologram world is one step closer to becoming a reality.