Imagine a world where our eyes didn’t only see the outer appearance of something, but all of its moving parts, its structure, and all of the background information pertaining to it. With the Microsoft HoloLens, we can give architects the tools to build and scrap models with the swipe of a finger or give engineers instant diagnostic capabilities. Imagine a doctor operating on a patient with all of that patient’s medical history, x-rays, and vital signs being displayed alongside them in real time. Utilizing mixed reality technology, all that is possible and more.
Virtual reality(VR) technology has gone mainstream since Sony’s consumer release of the PlayStation VR. Meanwhile, mixed reality(MR) and augmented reality(AR) have flown under the public radar (with the exception of a few mobile AR games). However, with applications in countless industries, mixed reality headsets show just as much promise as the VR tech we see today. Utilizing eye tracking, object recognition, and other computer vision processes, mixed reality headsets such as the Microsoft HoloLens will change the world in the near future.
What is the difference between augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality?
Whereas VR takes people to a virtual digital world, mixed reality seamlessly blends digital images and data with the real world, often enhancing our experience of it. While the lines aren’t definitive, the main difference between mixed reality and augmented reality is the ability to interact with digital entities in an MR environment. With augmented reality, you could simply superimpose a digital poster on a real wall in the real world. However, in mixed reality, you could tear that digital poster off of the wall with your own hands, rotate it, and adjust it as you would a normal poster. Other users with MR headsets linked to the same images you are viewing could see the changes you make in real time.
Using the HoloLens for Medical Innovation
Unbeknownst to almost everyone outside of the medical fields, image guided therapy is being used in many hospitals around the world. By utilizing live CT scans, angiographies, or other 2D or 3D x-ray imaging, physicians can enhance their efficiency and improve the patient experience. However, this means that physicians are constantly looking at screens throughout various procedures.
“Technology is not the goal. Technology should be the enabler.”
-Ronald Tabaksblat, VP of Image Guided Therapy Systems at Philips
Combining Philips’ innovations in image guided therapy with HoloLens technology could revolutionize modern surgical practices. Instead of looking at a stationary screen to view a patient’s x-rays during the surgery, HoloLens technology can superimpose the images anywhere in the physician’s field of view. Utilizing the HoloLens headset allows the images to move with the physician whenever they turn their head and wherever they move throughout the operating room.
HoloLens technology can even superimpose cat scans or angiographies over the patient’s body, which essentially gives the physician a form of x-ray vision, allowing for even greater precision. Many of these innovations are already being put into practice. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in the UK announced in late 2018 that they planned to use HoloLens technology in their operating theaters.
The Next Revolution in Architecture
The next revolution in architecture is likely not a change in style or design, but rather a change in how we coordinate, plan, and execute projects. Microsoft has partnered with numerous software providers to put HoloLens in the hands of architects and builders across the globe.
Instead of bringing 2D blueprints to a construction site and simply visualizing the structural components, the HoloLens could allow designers and project managers to walk around the site, see the schematics in full 3D and cycle between different phases of construction. Seeing the digital models of projected development phases superimposed over the actual project site can allow managers to more easily track progress and stay on schedule. Furthermore, building digital models allows designers to edit and swap out components, rotate their models, and zoom in and out of areas with the flick of a finger.
Increasing Productivity and Reducing Downtime in Manufacturing Companies
Utilizing holographic tutorials in the workplace can allow new staff to safely and efficiently learn on the job with the actual machinery or training prototypes. Hiring and training takes an exorbitant amount of time and money. Trainees are often forced to sit through lengthy presentations or videos and engage in multiple hours of reading. With HoloLens technology, new staff can view step by step instructions in real time, superimposed over the tools or machinery in their work area.
Moreover, for maintenance and repair, the HoloLens can be used to overlay digital data on physical products to show the operating condition and performance of the equipment. If repairs are needed, HoloLens technology combined with Dynamics 365 Guides could allow experts to assess the problems remotely through the eyes of whoever is wearing the HoloLens. The experts could then create step by step repair instructions in real time by placing digital icons over the equipment, providing years of expert knowledge in the hands of HoloLens users.
The above applications of the Microsoft HoloLens are just the tip of the iceberg for MR technology. The possibilities for mixed reality headsets in consumer markets and the entertainment industries are endless.
Stephen Hawking once said, “Remember to look up at the stars, and not down at your feet.” Mixed reality technology like the HoloLens will keep us looking forward into a new and enhanced world. Mixed reality and augmented reality technology rely on numerous AI and machine learning concepts, such as object recognition, facial tracking, and other elements of computer vision. If you’re a developer working on your own AR or MR projects, get in touch to learn how Lionbridge AI can help you meet your project’s needs. Lionbridge’s AI training data solutions are trusted by some of the world’s largest companies.
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