When Star Trek first came on air in the late 1980s, holograms and augmented reality seemed like something that truly only belonged in TV shows set in outer space or the very distant future. For the average viewer, the idea that images and visuals from computers could be immersed into the real world around them seemed just as far-fetched as the idea of a replicator creating food out of thin air (another concept that has almost been made possible with the use of 3D printers). Thirty years later, Pokémon GO, a game where you chase fictional monsters around your real-world environment with the help of your phone was the fastest game ever to top the App Store and Google Play. With the help of new technologies, augmented reality is quickly becoming a part of our everyday lives. With Microsoft recently using the concept of augmented reality integrated within HoloLens, we are closer than ever to living our childhood sci-fi dreams.
The one thing organizations like Microsoft are always trying to achieve with updates and new programs is saving time through integration. In a futuristic vision of the world, people never stop to switch from computer to mobile, rather always pulling out holographic models into their work environments. While we are still not quite at the level where holographic visuals are being flown around offices with no visible trace of their source, what Microsoft offers through the use of the HoloLens is the next best thing.
First, let’s talk about how it works. The HoloLens is Microsoft’s newest device which offers developers the tools to create mixed reality apps, allowing end users to interact with holograms and experience their digital content in the world around them. To cut to the chase, HoloLens is essentially a pair of really cool glasses that allows you to see and engage with holograms in the real world. If you thought 360° videos and 3D earth models online were amazing, the HoloLens will blow you away. Through the built-in sensors, the HoloLens allows you to control the cursor with your gaze, control and manage content with simple hand gestures, and use voice commands to control your apps. This means you have a world of holographic content projected in the world around you, and you can control it easily with just the tip of your fingers and your voice. To put this in a real-world example, when Skyping with a colleague or a client, you can use the HoloLens to project holograms, allowing the other side to see your vision in 3D instead of scanning a 2D sketch. Would you like to see a preview of a to-be-developed design or a 3D projection of an ancient ruin? You can experience it all with HoloLens. Isn’t the future great?
Augmented reality in Power BI
Microsoft encourages developers to develop apps using the HoloLens and have themselves already brought mixed reality to Skype. Now, it’s time for Power BI to get in on the action. Power BI has dabbled in augmented reality before, with the ability to scan physical QR and barcodes with the Power BI mobile app. This allows you to access a report tile directly by scanning a code either placed physically in front of you or from a screen. Once the code is scanned, it appears to be hovering in front of you in augmented reality, and you can open it in focus mode.
The news is that you can now do the same and much more with Microsoft’s Mixed Reality App. The app can be found in Microsoft Store and is compatible with the HoloLens. When you scan a QR code using the Mixed Reality App, you gain the possibility to control it by gaze, gestures, and voice. There are two options available: pinning the content to a real-world location – let’s say a wall in your office – or having it follow you around in a docking belt. The docking belt is located at the bottom of your view port and you can open individual dashboards and reports either by gaze or voice control. This allows for far better integration than ever before. Imagine an office where each team member is using a HoloLens. No longer do you need to call your coworker over to show them a report, but you can now holographically project it in the middle of any space in 3D. Let’s go one step further and imagine a world where every working professional is using HoloLens and where you can Skype with your clients across the world and show them your designs, ideas, and reports right in their home or office! Not only this, but you can take your reports and dashboards anywhere, without having to depend on your computer. With Mixed Reality, you can take your reports home, outside or just walk around the office and project your dashboards anywhere, from your work desk to your kitchen ceiling. You can literally walk through and interact with your data anytime, anywhere.
Where no man has gone before
There is no denying that we are living in a world that’s changing faster than ever. With the dawn of augmented and virtual reality, it seems that the future is leading us to an integrated mixed reality world where holograms interact with the real world and the line between real and virtual becomes more and more blurred every day. As always, Microsoft is an early adopter of this trend and so far has given us a pretty impressive take on the augmented reality craze. With HoloLens and the Power BI mobile app allowing us to access holographs and interact with them like never before, this looks a lot like the future Star Trek once promised us.