Very few of us will ever have to dodge falling debris or battle clouds of dust while sitting in on a video conference, but there’s a section of the community that does face this reality. Well, at least they will, now that video conferencing is mobile enough to go with them into the kinds of places that generate dust clouds.
Microsoft’s augmented reality glasses, the Hololens, which has been promising to fill our video calls with all sorts of computer-generated images and alternate realities for years now, has been given certification as protective eyewear. It can be safely used to provide impact and dust protection, lending the device a rare blend of digital-age technology and construction-site durability.
With Microsoft Hololens uses now extending to practical safety, its hands-free video calling could take remote, face-to-face communication onto hazardous job sites and into wild terrains. For work or pleasure, it’s a new phase of video calling possibilities.
Microsoft HoloLens Uses
The HoloLens has been one of the big shining lights on the video conferencing horizon for a while now. Every now and then Microsoft releases another video of the interactive world we’ll all inhabit once its fusion of computer-generated and real-world viewpoints arrives on our doorstep.
The device is still only available in an unfinished “developer’s” version at the moment, and at $3,000 a pair it’s clearly not intended for public use. Those snippets of HoloLens life do look impressive enough to wait for, though.
Essentially, the device projects images onto the glasses, which then interact with the real world you can see around you. Other augmented reality apps and devices already exist–augmented reality was most notably used in the Pokemon Go app that was such a craze last year–but HoloLens has always promised something more serious than any game.
For one, it has promised to blend those augmented reality niceties into a shared, real-time video calling platform.
Augmented Reality Video Calling
As it currently stands, the most impressive augmented reality video calls you can make involve those animated masks and avatars available in video calling apps like Tango or ooVoo. Those are certainly cute, but they’ll hardly change your view of the world.
Instead, what we want from augmented reality is a way to make the world around us digital, and then to shape that digital imagery into something informative and practical. You’ve probably seen apps that can display information about an object when you aim your smartphone at it–we want that within a live video call.
When we’re in a business meeting, we want all kinds of interactive graphs and charts to float before the entire group. When we’re in a classroom, we want computer-generated dinosaurs to demonstrate exactly how they caught their dinner. When we’re consulting a doctor online, we want to hold and move our own x-rays.
And now, because the HoloLens is a form of protective eyewear, we might be able to get all that while spelunking down a bottomless ravine.
The HoloLens and Video Conferencing
Microsoft unveiled the news of its safety accreditation at its recent Future Decoded conference in London. It also used the platform to roll out yet another HoloLens video, this one showing us how they’ll put that accreditation to work.
It’s all classic, onsite second-opinion and advice scenarios. The worker at the site of a problem or in the middle of creating a solution gets in contact with the colleague back at their desk and shares a real-time view of the situation. They both access augmented reality schematics, controls, or 3D scans, and physically twist their altered realities until the problem is solved. The HoloLens is already being used to help maintenance workers, inspectors, and assembly line workers do their job more quickly and efficiently.
And there’s even more potential for this technology if you bring video conferencing into the equation. An in-house discussion to find the venue for this year’s shareholder meeting could be linked to people on the ground at potential sites, and then overlaid with augmented crowds, decorations, and security scenarios.
Unfinished building sites that require safety equipment could spring to life before the eyes of potential investors. Your mechanic could take you step by step through what’s wrong with your car from miles away, handling each offending item in computer-generated close-up.
A tour guide could safely navigate through the hazardous confines of a cave, illuminating the ancient artwork with augmented reality.
As long as there’s an internet connection to be had, there’s no end to the places and situation you could share over a video call. And you could be even more daring now that Microsoft has revealed its plans to add a hard hat to its HoloLens safety features.
Image Source: Flickr CC User Penn Libraries – TRL