First experience of Hololens AR glasses by a tech noob

Mostly cool, but still imperfect. But still cool.

Wearing the Hololens headset

Hello, I’m Anne, just joined the OneBonsai team as an intern! As you might already know, Hololens is one of the best — if not the best — Augmented Reality smartglasses available on the market. Manufactured by Microsoft, it is the first fully self-contained holographic computer. For noobs : it is a headset that projects holographic images into your eyes.

Almost like Star Wars!

With it, you can touch, gaze, rotate, make holograms, shoot robot bugs with voice command, …

The feeling of voice command is pretty awesome

.. skype people, etc etc. Lots of cool stuff!

Some other things could have been improved though. Here is my experience in detail :

  1. ‘Designed for comfort’

Yeah, no. The headset was too big and too heavy. I am an average build 1,70-meter-tall young and healthy female and it did not fit me.

The feeling I had while wearing the Hololens headset

The support points were : 
a) Nose
Mine is relatively small, so most of the weight had to rely on point b. 
b) Pressure grip around the crown of the head
The headband has an adjustable wheel, which I tightened to the very limit of comfort and safety (I have glasses), but in vain. The headset still helplessly slid off my face. Which, as you can imagine, was quite problematic because I needed the little screens in front of my eyes in order to use the device. It would have held on better if there were a strap that went over the top of my head, like on VR headsets.

In order to see, I held the headset with one hand and input commands with the other. Still couldn’t always see the whole image though, which was a bummer. Moving on!

The audio was at a comfortable level and adjustable through buttons on the side of the headset. The heat from the device, or the lack of it, was comfortable too. I only noticed some warmth by touching the sides of the headset after 2 hours of use. Hololens does not use fans to cool down. So there was no annoying buzzing in my ears, just the stable and friendly voice of Cortana, Windows 10’s virtual assistant.

2. Visuals

Simplistic, attractive and intuitive. Once you see them, you love ’em. Good job for those, Hololens! *thumbs up*

Visuals of the intro learning phase of Hololens
Design of main menu is simple and to-the-point

3. Learning how to use Hololens

When you turn the device on, there is a short introduction to teach you how to use the commands. It’s short and sweet, almost like a video game. The voice over was friendly and gave clear indications for the simple commands. Point with your gaze, move your head to be sure to move your gaze. Once you lock eyes on the object you want to select, either do the hand click command or say ‘select’. And poom, it works! :)

Intro learning phase with Hololens
“Bloom” to access main menu

4. Anchoring

Yes. Once you place a hologram in space, it stays locked in position and will not wander away, unlike the Epson AR glasses we tried out at Integrated Systems Europe 2018 in Amsterdam two days ago. The Hololens is indeed the best AR device we have tried so far.

Evarest trying out the Epson AR glasses at ISE 2018

5. Integration

No. As you can see below, I placed this ballerina closest to the top surface of the box as I could, yet there were no elements indicating that the hologram was integrated in its environment. No shadows or no light reflections. That’s a shame as adding “fake” shadows on a model is really doable and will significantly improve the AR experience.

No shadow under the ballerina

6. Persistance

Yes. When I turned on the Hololens, there still were holograms placed by Dimitri in our office’s AR air space a week ago. Talk about persistance!

Astronaut hologram placed in our office

7. Data transfer

Once you connect Hololens to wifi, you have the possibility of transferring data. Easier said than done. If I’m not completly mistaken, transferring images from the headset to a PC requires some setting up. I googled it and endeavoured setting up the correct platforms, but it was really complicated and time-consuming. (Eventually, I transferred my pictures through Facebook. Don’t judge me.)

Snapshot from Hololens

8. Typing

You do not want to type with Hololens. Single clicks only, with just one finger. That’s a hard brake on the “computing” feature. Try typing in a password or a full sentence in Google with just one finger. Muscle fatigue kicks in after word number four. Believe me.

Message received, Hololens.

Conclusion

When all is taken into account, the Hololens is mostly cool. Still imperfect. But still cool. There are some discomforts, but clearly a lot of blood and sweat has been poured into this device already. And that should be respected! The next one is coming out in 2019 at the earliest. We are waiting!

We’re waiting

>> Want to dig further? Check out this article from codeproject.com .

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