Microsoft Hololens

Official Hololens website:

After watching a number of Youtube videos on the Hololens I am excited about the possibilities of this amazing VR device for the designing of immersive learning experiences.

In June this year during a family holiday in the USA, I had the good fortune (and good foresight on my part as I pre-booked a date and time to participate before leaving Australia) to participate in a demonstration of the Hololens at the main Microsoft store in New York ( I was impressed with the fact that the Hololens is a self-contained unit that is not tethered to a separate computer. In fact, the Hololens runs a full version of Microsoft Windows 10 (at least at the time I attended the demos).  This enables incredible freedom of movement, and the unit itself when worn on your head does not feel heavy or uncomfortable. I was also impressed with how effectively the unit can scan in the dimensions of the space it is being used in (smallish cubicles in the case of the NY demos) and then apply the VR 3D images to that space. The fidelity of the 3D images was great and I loved the fact that I could still see the real space I was in and the people there with me.

An immediate use I can see for me with the Hololens is when I am working at home and want to have 3 or 4 computer screens open at the one time. I currently have two screens on my desk (my laptop screen and an external screen), but could not fit any more on my desk. In the past I have worked with multiple screens in Second Life (you would be amazed at how well it works), but there are limitations on how you can interact with those screens and what you can display on them. With Hololens you should be able to display multiple independent screens that you can interact with like any real screen but without taking up real space. While this is not directly related to the creation of immersive learning experiences, it is an example of what could be done at just an ordinary everyday work level.

Microsoft has made Hololenses available to developers in the USA and Canada (at a hefty price of US$3000), but sadly not anywhere else (I have registered to buy one, but have been rejected because of being outside the USA and Canada). At this stage, then, I can only start imagining the ways in which immersive language and culture learning experiences might be created. However, I am slowly coming across information about things that other people are already experimenting with that may one day form the basis for creating such immersive learning experiences. What follows are links to some of the things I have found.

Hololens in the news

Microsoft news

While I am sure this video shows things not actually possible yet, it is inspiring in terms of how immersive learning experiences might be created:

Jo Yardley’s Second Life

Jo’s blog post has a link to a video that, for me at least, is very exciting. It demonstrates something that I have begun to think about when contemplating what kinds of immersive experiences we might design for language and culture learners.

Bring your Second Life into real life with Augmented Reality

While I am not suggesting my students will design dresses as part of their immersive classes, it does raise the possibility of them interacting with our programmed NPCs in life-sized form.  The second video makes me wonder if we could not potentially take some of the virtual venues on Chinese Island and have them “rezzed” life-sized in an empty classroom for students to move around and interact with. For some students this may be a more intuitive way of interacting than using a keyboard and mouse.

 Jo’s other post on 3D filming in Second Life also raises interesting possibilities:

First Hololens experiment with 360 degrees footage filmed in Second Life

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