Moving (virtual) mountains – just with the power of thoughts

There is one thing all virtual or augmented reality devices like Microsoft HoloLens, Oculus Rift or others have in common:
Interaction with the virtual environments or objects requires usage of other peripherals or at least your hands. Fatigue, inconvenience or frustration may be a consequence.
But with the invention of a team of students consisting ofJuan de Joya, Victor Leung and Kelly Peng in the UC Berkeley chapter of ACM SIGGRAPH this could become irrelevant in the future: They have invented a virtual reality system where the virtual world can be controlled just with the power of your thoughts. It works like the following:

The project, called Mindscape VR, utilizes the Oculus Rift and the Muse brain-sensing headset to create an immersive VR environment where users can move objects with their thoughts and interact with their surroundings by simply thinking about doing so.

via ACM SIGGRAPH

To us the combination of virtual reality with electroencephalography (EEG) for interaction sounds really amazing. Even though there is not much detailed information available yet, this technology could have the potential to be the missing part for a convenient long time usage and thus the success of virtual reality devices in a large variety of application areas.

Kid using VR system

Kid using VR system – Photo from Mindscape VR team for/via ACM SIGGRAPH

The authors describe it as “gratifying and empowering experience” and give some pretty cool usage examples:

“In our first iteration of the project, we used one type of brain wave frequency to allow the user to levitate and collect pebbles in a simple fantasy world. While we disabled them at launch, we do have features where the user can call a dragon to appear, change night to day, summon fireflies and shoot fireballs depending on what type of brain frequencies the Muse is picking up.

We found that the simplicity of using one’s thoughts to do things is a pretty gratifying and empowering experience. We had a kid try it out at launch, and as he started levitating the rocks he brought up his hands as if he were a Jedi. How cool is that? It’s these kinds of seamless, easy-to-use experiences that underlie the potential of immersive VR as a medium.”

via Juan de Joya at ACM SIGGRAPH

If you are interested in trying it out for yourself the authors state that the system (first iteration) can be experienced at San Francisco Exploratorium’s Cognitive Technology Exhibit during February.

So what do you think about it? Do you like the idea of not having to actually “do” anything for a virtual reality experience or would you still prefer a traditional input device for a haptic experience? We would love to read your thoughts in the comments section.

A single device, a million opportunities.

Some time has passed since Microsoft has announced its new gadget HoloLens, people had the chance to go through their daily lives with all of their visionary information in mind and thus one or another might have experienced some activities or situations where a device like Microsoft’s new gadget could appear desirable.

Microsoft HoloLens - Possibilities

Only one of a million possibilities Microsoft itself has shown in a marketing video

If you did not have had your “HoloLens moment” until now, maybe the article of columnist Jurica Dujmovic for MarketWatch may be an inspiration for you. From an economic point of view he sheds light on Hololens’ possible impact on the consumer market as well as media usage and points out where “the first augmented-reality device done right” could really be an improvement:

“HoloLens will impact multiple markets, ranging from home entertainment to mobile devices; virtually everything with a screen will likely take a cue from the technology within HoloLens. Your fridge will interface with it, showing you a see-through view of groceries, along with a visual representation of the expiration dates, and the option to “check mark” individual items and add them to your shopping list. That is, without opening the fridge.”

via Microsoft’s HoloLens actually could be a game changer

But his list of opportunities and possibilities does not stop at your fridge. He talks about:

  • Changing wall colors at your home
  • Seeing fantasy scenes when looking out of your window
  • Experiencing different real world places when looking out of your window
  • Transforming your child’s bedroom into an enchanted forest instead of a traditional good night story
  • Single- or multiplayer gaming in your living room as an alternative to classical board games
  • Integration of holograms into your car and your view of the outside
  • Surgeons that use it for complex operations (if you have a special interest in medical topics we recommend the article “Drone Surgery and HoloLens: Hello 2015”  by Zev Ginzburg, UX Research Copywriter at Codal Inc.)
  • Improving the tidiness of your office working environment
  • Creating impressive art installations on almost empty walls in almost empty halls
  • Enhancing education by visual breakdown and vivid demonstration of complex subjects

Finally the authors sums it up very accurately:

“Really, HoloLens has the potential to change the way we perceive the world around us, and to truly extend and augment reality. Depending on the final product and the limits of our imagination, we may reach, or even surpass, many elements of the imaginary “Star Trek” holodeck technology.”

via Microsoft’s HoloLens actually could be a game changer

So did you find your favorite HoloLens scenario? Or do you even see more than the author? Or do you disagree and do not see any opportunities for your life in Microsoft’s new technology? We would love to hear your opinion in the comments section.

Future visions

cropped-holo23.jpg

Microsoft’s futuristic product presentation

arstechnia.com shared another Hands-On review of HoloLens including profound thoughts about the future of gaming and AR.

arstechnia’s Peter Bright describes his HoloLens vision as following:

“HoloLens certainly felt like part of the future. It excites me. I imagine a world of gaming that interacts with the environment around me. A world where designers and engineers can manipulate virtual 3D objects JARVIS-style, simply by using their hands. A world where I can sit at my desktop PC and have a monitor that’s near infinitely large and totally private.”

via Hands-on: Microsoft’s HoloLens is flat-out magical | Ars Technica.

But in the words of digitaltrends‘ Jeremy Kaplan, we have to admit that:

“There are more questions than answers at present: What does it cost? How do you get models built in Holo Studio onto your computer? Why did we have Developer Kits if the real deal was up and running? What sort of hardware powers this thing anyway?

Microsoft said it would have answers to many of those questions at the developer centric Build conference in March.”

via Microsoft HoloLens: Hands-On Review of VR and AR Fusion | Digital Trends |

Nevertheless we are all curious about the further development that will certainly come along with HoloLens!

What to know about Windows 10 & HoloLens

HoloLens Logo

Official Microsoft HoloLens Logo

As a result of Microsoft’s Windows 10 live event in January 2015, many questions may arise concerning the innovation HoloLens and Windows 10.

Therefore The Telegraph summarized 10 most frequently asked questions to provide corresponding answers.

This is what makes HoloLens so special:

What is Microsoft HoloLens?

It is a new wireless holographic headset that will overlap holograms into a user’s vision of their environment. It will run the new Windows 10 independent of a smartphone or computer. Users can create their own holograms within the company’s HoloStudio and 3D print the finished result. Satya Nadella, the boss of Microsoft, said at the launch event on Wednesday: “These are the kinds of magical moments we live for.”

via Windows 10 and Microsoft HoloLens – what you need to know – Telegraph.”

 

Apart from this, especially the technical part is of great interest. That’s why trustedreviews.com shared another informative article and gives an indication about the hardware components.

What’s powering the HoloLens?

Under the hood, Microsoft has packed the HoloLens with a series of sensors, along with a high-end CPU and GPU, although it has yet to talk specifics about the chipset architecture.

To create an intuitive interaction with holograms, the HoloLens also includes a Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) to smoothly process real-time data captured by the on-board sensors. Microsoft revealed that it worked closely with NASA to help bring the headset to life.

via What is HoloLens? Microsoft’s holographic headset explained – Opinion – Trusted Reviews.

For more detailed information about Windows 10 feel free to visit Micrsoft’s Newspage and read the Windows 10 story!

If that is not enough, watch the Event Highlights of the Windows 10 Event below:

Excerpts from the life of Alex Kipman

Alex Kipman’s Facebook profile image

Alex Kipman – the name is on everyone’s lips. As chief inventor of HoloLens and creator of Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller, he is an outstanding personage in the Age of Technology.

Especially his work for Microsoft and the Xbox department was crowned with success – even his everyday work speaks for itself.

“Kipman’s daily routine at Microsoft is very different from your average workday. In between critiquing secret projects and attending brainstorming meetings, Kipman blocks off several hours a day for “creating,” according to Fast Company.

If you want to learn more about his career and development, follow the link below and read the full article of UK Business Insider:

Everything You Need To Know About Microsoft’s Alex Kipman – Business Insider.