How is Microsoft HoloLens Different Than Other Virtual Reality Headsets?

What is HoloLens?

HoloLens is a “mixed reality” headset that projects 3D holograms on the lenses. HoloLens allows you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you. You can move around objects, manipulate and experience it as if it were in front of you. 

Mixed reality brings people, places and objects from your physical and digital worlds together. 

Microsoft HoloLens is set apart from other Virtual Reality headsets for more than one reason. First, Microsoft calls HoloLens “Mixed Reality” or “Augmented Reality” and the HoloLens allows you to see the world around you simultaneously, whereas Virtual Reality blocks out the world around you.

Microsoft said there are about 80% of the global workforce (over two billion people) employed as “first-line workers,” people who represent a company to the outside world. These first-line workers are tasked with finding and supporting customers, presenting business aims and providing demonstrations of the firm’s products. 

HoloLens is designed to put technology to work for first-line workers. Lorraine Bardeen, Microsoft’s studio manager for mixed reality, said in a presentation launching the HoloLens technologies “These first-line workers have enjoyed limited benefit from technology to date, simply because their jobs require them to use their hands to do other things — using tools, or moving equipment around in a physical space.”

“When these people are on the job, they must put down their electronics to get to work, and then when they’re at work and active, they don’t have any context or data or information in front of them in their workspace. That can be really challenging in a number of scenarios,” Bardeen says. 

The mixed reality of HoloLens changes that, allowing workers to keep their hands free while having the data exactly when and where they need it and simultaneously seeing their workspace. 

Collaboration is key to a company’s success. Sometimes problems arise and bringing people together or traveling isn’t always an option. With Microsoft Remote Assist, a worker can call in a remote expert to help solve a problem. The remote expert appears in a virtual window floating in the worker’s field of vision allowing that worker to stay hands-free while interacting with the expert. 

The expert can see through the worker’s eyes, via cameras on the HoloLens goggles. And the expert and worker can call up documents together, and virtually “draw” on the work surface. 

Another application, Dynamics 365 Layout, is designed for space planners who work in manufacturing, retail and intelligent warehousing, and need to design factory floors, storefronts and warehouses. Bardeen says, “The way you plan and lay out space is a competitive differentiator in many industries.”

Designing new spaces involves detailed planning. If you aren’t prepared, the smallest oversight can cause costly delays. Using Dynamics 365 Layout, you can plan your space, collaborate with others and experience your designs with confidence in mixed reality.  

Even with the most detailed planning, the real world can present unexpected challenges that require creative problem solving, with HoloLens you can work with high-quality 3D holograms integrated into your space. Layout gives you the tools you need to design and review in context and find new solutions that give you confidence before you commit. 

What Industries are using HoloLens?

  • Transportation 
  • Architecture and Construction 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Design 
  • Retail 
  • Education and training 

Along with these industries, HoloLens is transforming the Medical Field and how surgeons perform operations. Soon more surgeons could be using HoloLens to see inside patients in real-time for safer operations. Using an augmented reality such as HoloLens might lower the risk involved in operations — and lead to better results in patients. 

An operation was recently done using Microsoft HoloLens at the Imperial College London at St. Mary’s Hospital using mixed-reality headsets to see through the legs of patients undergoing reconstructive lower limb surgery. 

In the published research study, Dr. Pratt wrote about the experience, saying that reconstructive lower limb surgeries can be very complex due to the nature of damage caused by severe traumas, such as car accidents. Currently, the standard approach is using a handheld ultrasound scanner to find the vessels under the skin by detecting the movement if blood, giving surgeons not a precise 3D map of the vessels, but a close approximation of their location. This is very time consuming and still requires some guessing as to where the vessels are.

Dr. Pratt reported that mixed reality allows his team to see the blood vessels underneath the skin of the lower limb by overlaying CT scan data. This data provides images of everything, from the structure of the limb to the precise location and structure of the patients’ blood vessels. 

While the use of HoloLens in surgery operating rooms is at an early stage, the researchers and medical team noted that they were among the first to successfully use Microsoft HoloLens in the operating room and were optimistic about the results and indications for others around the world. In the future, HoloLens could be applied to other areas of surgery requiring more complex operations.

Can my Business use HoloLens? 

Yes! Bringing mixed reality to every workplace can lead to significant productivity and efficiency improvements by allowing employees to blend the real and digital worlds. There is no end to the ways you can use HoloLens for your business, but keep in mind you may need specific software for your business’s specific needs. 

With Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality changing the world around us there are no limits to what we can do within our businesses, and even the world around us. Use technology to make a difference!

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