AR: I choose you!
Let this sink in: At its peak, Pokemon Go had more active daily users than Twitter. You read that right. In the event that you have taken up residence under a sedimentary structure, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game released by Nintendo that captivated audiences around the world. Just as all Augmented Reality works, Pokemon Go uses generated images on the user’s smartphone and overlays them into the real world, providing a composite view. The release of this game alone skyrocketed Nintendo’s stock by 25% initially, but has since fallen. Nevertheless, the proliferation of Augmented Reality games and devices will only continue to have profound impacts on our society.
On the near horizon and several thousand miles away from Nintendo, several other companies are hard at work developing augmented reality tools that will surely redefine our ideas about productivity and collaboration. One such company is Microsoft. In June of 2015, Microsoft announced that they were working on an Augmented Reality headset—Microsoft Hololens. The release of the Hololens underscores a feasible and pragmatic approach to augmented reality that strays from the traditionally bombastic demonstrations. The most promising aspect of the Hololens is its ability to iconoclastically shatter prior technological limitations. One such limitation is geographical space.
Microsoft has embarked on a quest to find a method of communication that is as close to face-to-face interaction as possible. They have deemed this project “Room2Room”. In order to make Room2Room function, they employed the use of an already existing augmented-reality project called “RoomAlive”. RoomAlive uses depth-sensing cameras and digital projectors to create an image of a person in front of the user. The Room2Room technology then places the projected image of a person into an open space, like a chair if the person is captured in a seated position. Their end goal is to make this technology available through Hololens, a yearning that is not far from being actualized.
Microsoft then wanted to get an idea of how well people could communicate using their augmented reality technology. To study this, they used seven pairs of study participants and had them solve a puzzle using three-dimensional shapes with the Room2Room technology. They then put them head to head with traditional ways of communication and compared the results. Researchers found that putting this puzzle together took only about four minutes when people were face to face. Comparatively, it took about seven minutes using the augmented-reality system and nine via Skype video chat. So, just as Pokemon Go revolutionized the way in which we view and interact with video games, emerging technologies like Microsoft Hololens will lead us into a communication revolution that will only allow us to be more productive and creative.
What else will Microsoft Hololens allow us do?
Spend your Holidays in Bali while sitting on your couch?
Explore the surface of Mars from the comfort of your bed?
Only time will tell.