Holographic computer technology create a buzz

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To say we love getting our hands on the latest technology at Company-X is an understatement. In fact, we embrace it. Which is why, when Microsoft New Zealand turned up at Wintec’s Hamilton CBD campus with the first self-contained holographic computer to show off you couldn’t see our team for dust.

Software developers, business analysts, directors, you name it, formed a polite line in The Atrium to try on Microsoft’s answer to the VISOR worn by the starship Enterprise’s chief engineer Geordie La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s called the HoloLens and puts what was considered, just 30 years ago, to be 24th century technology into the hands of 21st Century people.

LaForge’s VISOR enabled the character, who was otherwise blind, to see throughout the electromagnetic spectrum, from heat and infrared through visible light to radio waves. HoloLens does something equally amazing. It allows software developers, like the clever team we have at Company-X, to create software that renders computer generated 3D objects alongside real world objects.

Microsoft calls the application of this new technology mixed reality because it mixes reality with virtual reality images created by the headset.

“Mixed reality brings people, places, and objects from your physical and digital worlds together,” Microsoft boasts on its website. “This blended environment becomes your canvas, where you can create and enjoy a wide range of experiences.”

When we tried the HoloLens at Wintec it was nice to hear that, at least some of our developers were already more than familiar with the HoloLens and had tried it out before. Not bad for a technology in the process of hitting the ground, running.

Microsoft included a working application for the medical profession for us to get our heads around, and our hands on. Anyone wearing the HoloLens, with the app running, could examine a three dimensional computerised cadaver created from data from a real cadaver. It was as if the cadaver was in Wintec’s Atrium with us, as the Company-X team poked and prodded the simulation to learn how the human body works.

The neat thing about the application was that we could take as long as we needed, which wouldn’t have been the case if the cadaver had been real, and everyone got the chance to have precisely the same experience, which would be helpful when it comes to evaluations.

The training possibilities such a device can offer are as limitless as the applications business leaders can think up, and software developers can build.

HoloLens can also take more mundane tasks, such as teleconferencing, up a level. Instead of Skype for business calls, or Google Hangouts, over a webcam, HoloLens allows the sorts of holographic Jedi Council calls seen in the Star Wars movies. Picture a council of, say, a dozen, with some of them in the room and others off site. Those off site can be represented by life sized holograms, being broadcast from wherever the participant is, via HoloLens.

The technological landscape is changing all the time, often making the business world an easier place to navigate.

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David Hallett

David Hallett is a director of Hamilton software specialist Company-X, design house E9 and chief nerd at Waikato Need A Nerd.

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