Posted by: crudbasher | January 22, 2015

Microsoft’s Project HoloLens

Here is some background on Simulation.

Oh Microsoft, you doth tease us so! I’ve had a love hate relationship with Microsoft for decades. They are a company that hires some of the best people around and then cripples them with a horrendous marketing/management culture. In Microsoft’s research labs for example, they are funding research on some ideas that aren’t likely to be practical for 30 years. In my mind they are one of the biggest underachievers in the industry.

So when I see something like their new project Hololens I take it with a huge grain of salt. First a concept video.

What you are seeing is not a hologram per se. Instead, this is Augmented Reality. This is one of the technologies that I think will change the world in a way similar to how the smart phone did. It will bring the Internet into the physical world and blend the two together.

As with most concept videos there are some good ideas and some bad. The good ideas are where the woman is designing a motorcycle and has it visualized in front of her. Being able to see an object in real space at actual size is a good idea. Some bad ideas is where people are creating things by walking around them and crouching down etc… That will get tiring quickly. It is just like how some people thought a touchscreen will replace a keyboard and mouse. My laptop has a touchscreen but I rarely use it because it is tiring to hold your hands up. Ergonomics plays a big role in Augmented Reality.

There is a very good article about the Hololens technology at Wired. In it, the creator of the project gives a good explanation of why AR is going to be big.

[y]ou used to compute on a screen, entering commands on a keyboard. Cyberspace was somewhere else. Computers responded to programs that detailed explicit commands. In the very near future, you’ll compute in the physical world, using voice and gesture to summon data and layer it atop physical objects. Computer programs will be able to digest so much data that they’ll be able to handle far more complex and nuanced situations. Cyberspace will be all around you.

There are two factors that make this perfect for learning.

1. Immersion: this means you are surrounded by information that is blended with reality. This provides a much richer experience than just watching a video. It’s more interactive with keeps a learner engaged.

2. Portable: The full potential for this technology will be when it becomes fully portable. Apparently the headset has a depth sensing camera in it plus the computing technology to make it work (this is impressive).

It won’t take very long for people to start coming up with learning that can be done based on where you are. The video has a great example of this at 1:05. A woman is repairing her sink with the assistance of someone else who is walking her through what to do. Not only can he see what she is doing remotely, but he can draw on parts of the video which she then sees layered over reality. It’s amazing.

This demonstrates collaborative, personalized, just in time learning. The person exploring a Mars location at 1:16 is also very cool. The sort of experiential learning is I think going to be very effective in the future.

Of course there is one huge education take way from this. You don’t have to be in a classroom to do any of this. The idea that in order to learn you have to go to school is a remnant of when knowledge was scarce. Once you separate the teacher from the learner, it doesn’t matter how far away they are.

We will see if Microsoft can produce a product that is close to this concept video. Knowing them, I’m sure they will screw it up somehow. 🙂

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