A fusion of virtual and physical realities
In typical Microsoft fashion, the initial market launch of their HoloLens tech in 2016 went widely underpublicized. Don’t let the lack of fuss fool you, however. Much more than a cool piece of tech that augments reality and makes MR gaming really fun, HoloLens and those who develop for it have made a foray into enterprise and educational applications that bring on significant disruptive potential.
How does it all work?
The HoloLens is the first untethered, holographic wearable computer able to project holograms, overlaying objects, places, and people directly onto the physical realm. The device allows users to easily interact with holographic projection in the real world by using their fingers.
This video demonstrates the inner workings of it
The ground-breaking technology is in part based on the original Microsoft Kinect, which also remained largely unknown, compared to its counterpart Nintendo Wii, and is no longer manufactured.
The future of learning
Wearable technology like Microsoft’s mixed-reality HoloLens headset has the potential to “level the playing field” for children in schools, according to Pearson, the world’s largest education company. The technology can make it easy for students to work, play and learn together, no matter what their socio-economic background might be, according to Mark Christian -- Pearson’s Global Director of Immersive Learning – who thinks mixed-reality devices should be made available in schools.
HoloLens’s MR environment can also aid visual learners who learn through experiencing the material rather than through reading about it in books. Attention spans keep getting shorter in an ever-connected, digital world. By interacting with content in a mixed reality, learners can comprehend and remember it more effectively than if they simply try to memorize it.
Learning through gamification
Lifeliqe (pronounced "life-like") is a visual education company that creates digital science curriculua for students by using the latest MR and AR technologies. The company just finished piloting its 3D HoloLens app for kids in grades 6 - 12 at private schools in California. Creative applications like a 3D periodic table, Minecraft, holographic 3D models of the human body with all its organs, holographic physics visualizers, MR laser and mirror games, and Cinekid Medialab’s Hololems game are just some of the innovations in Hololens’ expanding portfolio.
An evolution of education
Through mixed reality applications, teachers can incorporate innovative teaching techniques and concept models into their curricula, enabling them to offer students truly engaging experiences. Science, agriculture, geography, math, chemistry, physics, medicine and STEM research are all fields where HoloLens tech and MR can help aid learning processes and advances in research.
What’s in store for HoloLens tech?
Although developers are continuously building new HoloLens apps, the process is time-consuming and adoption is still low, especially on the consumer market. Today most commercial use cases can be found within the high tech, enterprise, health and education sectors. To encourage adoption in academia, Microsoft has recently introduced a special discount for academic institutions on the purchase of commercial and developer HoloLens units.
HoloLens technology has far-reaching applications beyond education that are yet to be explored. NASA is currently using it in their Project Sidekick, aimed at advancing space exploration and understanding by accelerating astronauts’ learning aboard the International Space Station (ISS). A HoloLens device has even been used in performing bowel surgery.
Copywriter: Ina Danova