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Some hard lessons I learned from Hololens

sptspt ✭✭
edited January 2017 in Discussion

I received my hololens last spring and spent the summer writing hololens apps and trying out others apps.

During this time I showed hololens to a few dozen people. This experience was as eye opening as it was disappointing.

I put down the hololens in September and didn't pick it back up until a few days ago.

The main takeaway from my experiences is this: not one person ever asked to try the hololens again after trying out the samples like holo raid, fragments and holotour. In one case it was someone who help design a hololens app in Unity; she never asked to see her work in-situ a second time.

Which is sort of surprising given that all but one said it was really cool. But, when I did try to entice people to try out some more apps, I was greeted with what seemed to be a general sense of terror. Some put it back on for a few minutes, most made excuses and avoided doing so, and some outright refused to try it again.

I now realize some of the major issues that most people had: they either have vision problems or coordination problems and spatial memory issues.

While some of them wear glasses, most of them do not. I now know that almost all of them actually have vision problems but they have not sought treatment, and in fact some are trying very hard to hide the problem. These problems made the need for stereoscopic focus an issue. All of them drive, most them should not!

Some also have basic coordination problems, for example most could not tighten the headset on their own using the knob at the back, even after being shown how.

One person was unable to perform the very first calibration task of aligning their finger even after a half hour of trying.

Another person who I had been to Peru with just a few months prior did not recognize the place the holo tour started at was exactly at a spot he had spent hours at so recently.

Now to be clear, these were all regular day to day people, old and young, professionals, video designers, video game players.

I never would have expected the actual difficulties some of them had would arise! One of them designed several dozen animated characters and props for one of my Hololens Unity projects, but was unable to adapt to the actual device comfortably enough to try it again.

Another thing I have noticed is the difficulty of people to use proper spatial thinking and introspection, (even in this community). For example, many people confuse in their minds eye the direction the camera faces, and what will be seen from different perspectives. This leads to expectations like being able to do a two-way conversation where hololens wearers can see one another, and without the goggles on. This is not made better by marketing that shows these sorts of things!

So these human factors issues I hadn't expected compound on with the expected ones like the unfashionable nature of wearing goggles, poking and talking to invisible objects, discomfort with the device and of course FOV issues.

The path to adoption might be steeper than I had originally thought.


  • utekaiutekai ✭✭✭

    Very similar to the experience I had. Once trying the demo apps, never wanted to use them again. Sure very visually appealing, very visually stunning, but awkward hand and arm movements, very limited in what is happening. I felt ripped off and that HoloLens was just a marketing gimic and too expensive for the visual candy the demo apps offered.

    Then add in the development workflow Microsoft was promoting with Unity IDE. I would take a break after each minor code change, such was the time it takes to go from Unity to Visual Studio to HoloLens.

    I was thinking it all just was a waste of time and planning to go off and do something else.

    But when letting people use my HoloLens, I did have better experience with people as I always gave an intro and led them down the path they went, and didn't offer much opportunity to go off on their own (think of it as a manual kiosk mode, which by the way I now know how to do programmatically without buying Enterprise edition).

    Then I took a different development approach altogether and fully dumped Unity, which for me just seems too heavyweight and mostly in the way, and quickly succeeded in developing an app now released.

    And during development had other epiphanies, which I blogged about here.

    Anyway, what turned my attitude positive was when I started using the HoloLens as a tool, rather than as an expensive viewer of holograms.

    I was able to quickly solve problems in 3D virtual space, in terms of minutes, rather than days. I'd literally allotted two weeks to implement something that ended up taking less than an hour after approaching and solving the problem visually in 3D virtual space.

    Then next thing that occurred was I realized Gestures are a big mistake. BIG MISTAKE.

    Let me write that one more time ...

    Using GESTURES in a HoloLens app is A BIG MISTAKE.

    Why? Because of arm fatigue. Using gestures, means NO ONE WILL USE YOUR SOFTWARE FOR MORE THAN A FEW MINUTES AT A TIME.

    Requiring gestures as the way to use a HoloLens app is a FAIL!

    Then I went to voice and lots of problems just disappeared. I was able to rather quickly implement a full voice API that can be expanded in real-time by the user.

    All of a sudden the HoloLens became a real tool I could use to solve problems visually. With voice commanding, I could use the HoloLens WITH ZERO ARM FATIGUE and leave my arms/hands 100% free, available for anything else, and not encumbered by awkward movements.

    Developing and working in 3D virtual space is way more effective and efficient than starting in 2D and moving to 3D. Just today I used the HoloLens to explore some interesting theories about earth, the pyramids and Antarctica.

  • sptspt ✭✭

    Then add in the development workflow Microsoft was promoting with Unity IDE. I would take a break after each minor code change, such was the time it takes to go from Unity to Visual Studio to HoloLens.

    My second hololens app is a scripting language/web browser that allows me to bypass all that gobblygook. Now I can update my app in seconds with no compile or messing around with Unity.

    Using GESTURES in a HoloLens app is A BIG MISTAKE.

    I agree %100. It seems like the hololens team put in a lot of effort into this, but quite frankly I hate it. Give me a wand, thats all I want.

  • No-UI or NUI will be moving upfront for interactions with the help of AI, BOTS and VoiceToText.

    DIAL could be a better alternative than a clicker for Hololens.

  • utekaiutekai ✭✭✭

    @spt said:

    Give me a wand, thats all I want.

    Voice is a good interface and frees up hands and arms. It's readily apparent many/most developers don't have much interest in using voice, and looking at the implementation of the voice APIs in the Unity IDE makes it clear why, as the API is barely implemented and voice is presented almost as an afterthought.

    Because HoloLens has pretty good audio/voice capabilities, voice commanding should be emphasized as a good alternative/substitute for gestures. Even with the stilted Unity implementation, voice commanding is still more flexible than gestures.

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