Growing up in the 90’s and aughts meant the idea of virtual reality was a thing of the distant future. From “The Matrix” to “Spy Kids” and “Star Trek,” cinema has portrayed virtual reality as a device usable during alien invasions and destructive video games. Microsoft is beginning address hardware barriers and produce virtual reality (VR) devices that will change the way architects design buildings, stores are laid out and surgeons operate.
The HoloLens (Microsoft) is “the first fully untethered, holographic computer.” Weighing less than a pound, this device is worn like a headband and allows for users to maximize their devices through full immersion. Different from virtual reality, augmented reality focuses on a blend of real life with virtual reality so users can create images within applications. The creation of HoloLens is more than a great addition to the gaming world, but important for the future growth of contractor-architect relationships and patient-doctor confidence.
In an interview with Michael Hoffman, a researcher for Microsoft’s HoloLens team, Hoffman explained the importance of HoloLens as a collaborative device. Although the use of FaceTime and Skype has made conference calling easier, HoloLens will allow for all members of a team to feel as though they’re at the building site and touring the grounds to make last minute building accommodations… all from the comfort of your living room. Hoffman states that this will allow for a breakdown between the challenge of “as designed” and “as constructed” (venturebeat.com). Additionally, once construction is completed, designers are able to use HoloLens to see visions come to life, virtually before their eyes (literally).
Finally, and arguably most interestingly, HoloLens is being considered as a tool for use in surgery. Hoffman coins “the operating theater” as an area this device can come in handy. while performing an operation, surgeons would have information about their patient– such as scans and medical history– available right before their eyes. Similarly, HoloLens can be beneficial to patients in giving a better understanding of upcoming surgeries and making consultations more interactive.
Although viewing virtual reality through the lens of “Spy Kids” may be fun, the HoloLens is proving to be a tool that can benefit more than just our childhood fantasies.