The Microsoft HoloLens has become the leading device in heads-up augmented reality. You can think of the HoloLens as a Windows 10 computer that you wear on your head with amazing context awareness of your room, your location, and direction of focus. The location and mapping capabilities of this device enable users to place 3D content or holograms in your work environment. As you place holograms in your work environment, the objects feel like they are physically fixed, stable, and present. As I have had the opportunity to study this device, I have become interested in ways that trainers or educators might use this technology. At a price point of $3000, the Microsoft Hololens will not be showing up in your K-12 classroom anytime soon. I believe it’s interesting to anticipate how educators will use it. In this post, I believe that trainers and educators will use devices like HoloLens to engage their students with visualizations of complex structures and processes. I would hope that students someday use the device as a platform to learn through their creativity.
It should be noted that the Microsoft HoloLens has a way to capture the point of view of the user. This feature, entitled Mixed Reality capture, enables HoloLens users to record videos or transmit a live video feed of their session. From a training point of view, the mixed reality capture enables a single teacher to explore holographic content while sharing the experience with the rest of the class. In the future, we will be able to transmit this mixed reality capture view in the classroom or over the Internet.
Enabling Students to Learn Through Building
I believe that students learn best when they can build stuff. As I have had the opportunity to build applications for the HoloLens, I built a ‘proof of concept’ application showing how students might build in a Minecraft environment using HoloLens. This video was recorded using the HoloLens mixed reality capture.
The HoloLens already comes with Holo Studio which enables users to build playful 3D structures. While this scenario is exciting for students, the price of Windows Holographic devices will need to decline in order for this use case to become common. We are looking forward to Lenovo and Acer to ship Windows Holographic platforms at a price point closer to $300 to $400 later this year.
Visualization of Complex Structures and Processes
In the short term, I can imagine professors, teachers, and trainers using the HoloLens as a platform for student engagement. Instead of showing students slides of complex structures or processes during a lecture, the holographic applications of the future will bring this content to life. My wife teaches microbiology and biology at a local college. She has become very curious about ways to use HoloLens to teach internal cell processes and biology structures. You can check out an early cell exploration app here. I have included a few tweets below to share other visions or use cases in medical education / digital health. In the medical market, there’s great interest in using Microsoft HoloLens to practice or simulate medical procedures.
— R.Grossmann,MD, FACS (@ZGJR) March 17, 2017
— VR/AR Association (@thevrara) March 12, 2017
Providing Training and Education at a Distance
Given that the Microsoft HoloLens enables teachers to share their perspective in videos or video streaming, I predict there will be a new ecosystem of holographic apps for remote learning and teaching. Suppose that a remotely located student needs support from a trainer, the student can initiate some form of video chat application to connect to the trainer. For example, a biology professor needs to remotely support lab techs back at the campus research lab. In this case, the research tech needs help to complete a procedure in the lab. In the ideal case, the remote trainer should have the ability to place helpful annotations to focus attention and place 3D content/pictures to coach the student. In this scenario, the HoloLens can transmit the view and perspective of student to the trainer. The trainer can provide mentorship or coaching using a remote view. In a similar fashion, teachers may use the Microsoft HoloLens in recording lectures for their classroom or transmit live video over the internet.
We enjoy hearing from our readers. If you got an idea for a Windows HoloLens application, leave a comment below. The possibility for Windows Holographic computing is out of this world.