Playing with HoloLens

Few days ago I got chance to play with HoloLens. Here’s the clip I shot from HoloLens in my bedroom during first few minutes with the device. The video posted directly from the HoloLens to YouTube, no postprocessing, and it’s very close to what I was seeing:

Few things that surprised me was how easy it was to just put on the HoloLens and start using it. No calibrations or other complicated settings required! My 3 year old and mother-in-law could take turns without modifying any settings. You can operate the whole device pretty much by using just two gestures and it took about 30 seconds to learn them. Given that how often gesturing fails, I was actually more impressed by its accuracy than almost every other feature. I can even type on virtual keyboard, although it does get tiring.

I put HoloLens through the battery of tests, some in low light environments like in above video, others around untextured walls and still more in outdoors with relatively large areas and bunch of trees. In all cases, virtual objects maintained their poses in real world and HoloLens knew its own pose fairly accurately. I can put an object in one of the bushes around my home, quickly look away, go around the corner and come back from totally different angle and it’s there just like I’d put it! Beyond this simplistic tests to see how well SLAM and feature matching algos worked, I also tried out apps like HoloTours and shootout game. In HoloTours, you can see places in Rome and Peru rendered around you in 360-degree! It absolutely impressed me that even though glass is transparent, I can’t actually see objects in real world when these 360-degree video was rendered. This is like having VR instead of AR and the black actually looked fairly black. However this is true only for reasonably lit environments. If you have a bright lights in the background, you can “see through” the virtual environment and “VR mode” is not convincing any more. In this VR like environment, I thought resolution was fairly good. It’s not as if you are watching HD but still it felt better than SD and not falling short for the VR-like experience.

Things can get pretty real though. I put a roaring dragon spewing fire on the floor and gave HoloLens to my 3 year old to view it. He took one look and said he didn’t wanted to see that scary thing again! This was absolutely mesmerizing and addictive. I also checked out galaxy and solar system apps that you often see in Magic Leap demo videos except that you can actually try out in HoloLens right now! I can totally see how this can become indispensable educational tool with well made apps.

So the question in everyone’s mind: what about field of view? At first I noticed it quite a bit but then got used it. The bottom line is that the whole experience is so magical that you will forget about it pretty soon and your brain seems to adjust to it. It’s like when first TVs came out and they were small and black-and-white and low resolution but hey, you are seeing moving images in your home and people still can get immersed in it! In fact, the more bothering thing for me was the color bleeding when you move your head around. I’m suspecting if that was the reason I often started to feel bit of headaches after 30 minutes of use. Still having completely untethered device that can do such heavy computational lifting on single battery charge is just totally amazing.

Shital Shah

A program trying to understand what it’s computing.

comments powered by Disqus