Microsoft have once again amazed crowds with a brilliant, albeit slightly stretching the truth, demo of HoloLens. At the worldwide partners conference in Toronto, Canada, Windows and HoloLens Program Director Arantxa Lasa Cid showed off the latest in a growing list of live demonstrations of the Augmented Reality headset.
This case study was focused heavily on education, with a 3D model of a Japan Airlines engine, in which the airline is actually using as a proof of concept to train employees on engine mechanics and for trainees on the flight crew looking for a promotion.
Koji Hayamizu is the senior director of the planning group for JAL’s Products & Service Administration Department and said,
Until now, flight crew trainees initially have learned in “the 2D world,” aided by videos and printouts of cockpit panel instruments and switches, Hayamizu says. The flight crews’ experiences using HoloLens will help convert “trainees’ intellectual memory to muscle memory.”
Engine mechanics “can study and be trained just as if they were working on the actual engine or cockpit,” placing their hands on virtual engines and parts, he says.
This formed the basis for today’s demonstration and after you see it, you’ll agree there’s a very compelling argument for it disrupting education and throwing away the text book.
The demonstration began with the HoloLens UI, which consisted of AR applications like Skype available from the table in front, as well as a number of floating windows. Interestingly Microsoft Germany referred to this as “Multimonitor experience with HoloLens”, which is the first time we’ve really heard that expression before. Those of us who are used to working on multiple displays will have questioned how that translates to the AR world, well we now have our answer. It seems the displays can be any alignment, any size.
It is important to remember, as with the rest of this demo, we aren’t seeing what the HoloLens sees, but an approximate representation through a special camera rig for on-stage presentations. This rig doesn’t suffer from the mailbox-slot limitations of the first generation HoloLens, so while the demo we seen today is amazing, it does need to be seen through those eyes.
After launching the training application to see the engine in 3D, it floats in mid air, but is able to be manipulated using a air click gesture. The focus then turns to different components which highlight then extract from the engine body to explain better. This of course has to be constructed in the training simulation, you don’t simply build a 3D model and have this happen automatically.
The next section of the demonstration was the most impressive where they talked about a trainee gaining an understanding of scale. While the engine on a table was accessible and easy to walk around, in the real world, the plane engine is massive, so we then see the scale shift to enlarge to a 1:1 representation. This really does give the user the ability to see the components better, assuming you have, like this one, an incredibly high detailed CAD model.
Possibly the best part of the presentation was when they talked about thermal dynamics and which areas of the engine (while operating) are hot and where caution needs to be taken. Imagine this under the hood of a car, or in a kitchen around the hotplates or oven, this kind of demonstration was fantastic for sparking the imagination of developers who will build these training simulations but also for the partners there today, to know what’s possible not in the future, but today.
I have no doubt Microsoft will publish a full video of the HoloLens demonstration at WPC16, but for now, for those who missed it live, here’s a quick snapshot of the demo in action as recorded by Twitter.