I read everything I could find about Microsoft HoloLens after seeing that crazy Minecraft video on YouTube. I thought it’d be cool, and was cautiously optimistic, but nothing prepared me for the actual experience…
In 2015 there were demos across the US but I couldn’t make any of the dates or locations with my long working hours and crazy schedule. I even called the Microsoft flagship store in NY and tried to sneak my way in via the store’s tech support but the guy told me in his New Yorker accent, “nice try, but ya ain’t getting in”. I called other Microsoft stores but most their sales reps hadn’t even heard of HoloLens.
When I saw the Tweet that more demos opened up in May of 2016 I jumped at the chance and scheduled a mid-week appointment. By the time I got my wife scheduled too so she could see what the heck I’d been talking about non-stop (and make the $3,000 purchase conversation sound less crazy) the slots had been filled up.
We drove from PA to NJ and took a train from Secaucus to NY. By the time we arrived we had about 20 minutes to run from Penn Station to their 5th Ave location. Traffic was at a stand-still so Uber was out of the question. We ran the 1.9 miles through heavy pedestrian traffic, while calling the store to give them our ETA, and arrived out of breath, very sweaty and 5 minutes late.
The guy working the demo scheduling told us, “you’ve missed your time so the people waiting on stand-by got your slot. You’ll have to wait and see if something opens up in another time-slot”. At that point I told him that we had just travelled 100 miles, only had 1 purpose for this day, and weren’t going anywhere until we got in. I guess we looked crazy enough that he went inside and shortly came back out to tell us they’d work us in. Score!
We got in the elevator and were taken up to a floor where it looked like they’d erected constructed a hallway and some temporary rooms for this. Then we each were led into separate rooms to get started.
The guy working the room told me I’d be playing something called RoboRaid. If you haven’t seen RoboRaid video, it’s pretty mind-blowing. It’s a game where robots burst through the walls around you and you have to duck, dodge, and shoot at the robots in the real-space around you. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. On a side note, they told me I got the highest score they’d ever had! Maybe from getting two robots at once with my shots? Anyway, I left the room with a smile a mile wide.
The second room was empty except for a table with nothing on it. After putting on the device the guide turned on the demo and a humungous watch appeared in 3D, slowly rotating. When I looked at the information points, or hotspots, on the watch more information would come up. Then he showed me how that could be applied. He showed me a heat map on the model that revealed where users were looking the most, and where they expected to see more information, or what they were just curious about. Neat.
The third room had some bookshelves with colorful figures on the walls. The guide had me start a 3D painting program called Holo Studio where I could create scenes in middle of the room, paint them, and use gestures or my voice to manipulate them. She then explained that the objects on the shelves had actually been created in Holo Studio and printed from Windows 10 using a 3D printer. Cool!
My wife commented to me afterwards, that she was glad she went with me, because she totally understood now why I had been so enthusiastic about HoloLens. I tweeted earlier that I’d quit my job if this had enough potential and I was impressed enough. Well I was blown away and am definitely purchasing HoloLens to explore the potential opportunities.