I was lucky enough to have Wi-Fi and get registered fast enough to participate in a 1 on 1 experience with the HoloLens while at the Microsoft Build Conference in April 2015. This is a recalling of my experience and some opinions I have about the device after getting a chance to play with it.
I get the email that I was selected for a 1 on 1 demo while sitting in "The Lesser Scott's" session on Azure app service architecture. I have to leave the session to make it to my arrival time. I walk over to the hotel next to the Moscone Center and I am met in the lobby by a bunch of people wearing Microsoft HoloLens shirts. I check in and we have to wait for your turn in up the elevator. I start talking with some of the other guys in the other group, after I get my special elevator pass. It is our turn, so we pack in the elevator and ride up. We are met by our experience ambassador and go through another check in where we get a HoloLens shirt. Then we are ushered into a room with lockers, where we are told to put all our stuff in there including cameras or other recording devices. We then go to another room and we get a small intro and they measure the distance between pupils for each person and write it on a card. Our experience ambassador then takes us into the hallway and then into our individual rooms for the official demo.
I had the architecture demo and after talking with some of the other participants there were a few others that included painting and drawing. Once in the room you are greeted by a guide and then there is also a tech guy in the corner standing by a computer. They put the glasses on and the tech guy set up the HoloLens with my eye distance. They turn the HoloLens on and then do a little calibration with a blue box. I had a few issue seeing the entire blue box but we adjusted the height and I was good to go.
I am directed over to the computer to start messing with the 3D model. I look at the hologram in the middle of the model and it looks amazing. It is sharp, clear and almost seems real. I use the mouse to manipulate the model on computer and watch as the model changes on the table. It is a simple raising the roof higher or lower. The guide then directs me to move the mouse over to the model off the computer screen. The mouse is floating in the air and it was the weirdest feeling.
I then repeated the same maneuver raising the roof up or down and the hologram moves in real time. The guide then directs me to click on this little human icon at a specific point in the model. It then put me in picture mode, where I could look around the city where the hologram building was going. Then the guide changed the skin of the model so you could visualize how it will look in the city.
We then stepped over to a new area in the room and started the next part of the demo. We talk about how an architect would look at a normal issue tracker and have to find a bunch of documents to get all the context built up in his mind to solve this problem. Instead we load the room and I am guided to click on a voice message pertaining a door that had a beam in the way. I was asked to locate the location of a door with a beam in the way. I find it and them move it to a new location. I didn't follow this part of the demo as smoothly because of the limited field of view, but I will get to that later. Once I move the door, the guide has me switch to "utilities" mode that shows pipes and electrical lines. You notice that there is a pipe in the way of the new door location and I was directed to leave a message. I do my in the air finger click on the pipe and start talking. After I stopped talking my voice message is floating in the air attached to the pipe. I am directed to play it back and I hear my voice. The guide wraps up and takes off the HoloLens. It is over. I am sent back out in the hall to wait for everyone else to finish. After everyone finished we are ushered to the lockers we get a poster and then back down the elevator.
I think that the HoloLens is a great device. The holograms look amazing. They are sharp and clear. They don't bounce around and they stay right where you would expect them. You also can easily see through the glasses and the holograms placed in your field of vision feel natural. The uses for the HoloLens are amazing and you probably saw most of them in the Build Keynote. As soon as this thing is released it will revolutionize education, architecture, and many more industries.
I think that the HoloLens is under powered. The reason I am guessing this is because the field of view was small. I had trouble in some sections of the demo because I couldn't find what I was supposed to very easily. I think that the problem is that there really is not a lot of space to store all the processing power that they need in that small band around the head. You have to move your entire head to look around your normal field of vision.
I think that since they are marketing this for business and consumer they are left with a dilemma. The packaging, size and power are probably great for consumers that want to use it to play Minecraft, skype while fixing things, or pin TV's on the wall. The business world needs a more powerful version. If you have to put a backpack on the person and attach a cord to fill the maximum field of view for the operator, I would in a heartbeat. If that is a possibility I would do it and demo a version of that. No scanning the room for an item you are looking for. You will be able to see the entire 120 inch TV you pinned to your wall in your peripheral vision. You could walk through a virtual floor plan or see the entire model you are working on and not just a small window of it. Another idea to increase the field of vision would be to lower the resolution. I think that perhaps that would allow them to display a larger field of vision. I would rather not compromise on the resolution and opt for the backpack in most cases. Then again they have already made amazing progress on this awesome technology I am sure they will figure something out.