One application that has the most potential for the HoloLens and similar Mixed Reality devices is their use in training. Despite this great potential, the biggest concern about the HoloLens is that it may not have enough software developed for it to make it as useful as it could be. Here in Towson Michael Bachman is overseeing a group of Information Technology students who are developing a capstone project that looks to take advantage of this application of Mixed Reality while helping to address the concerns. They are doing this by developing an application for the HoloLens that will help with training for the operation of a specific device. While the training will be for a very specific audience there is a real necessity for this training from the university.
The device is a $500,000 class 4 Excimer Gas Laser that is right here on campus in Smith Hall. This laser uses elements like Fluorine to bind to semiconductors in the hopes of identifying better substrates in an effort to make better semiconductors that can utilize more transistors. If that made no sense to you, basically this device makes it possible to do research that allows us to make more powerful computers. The problem is that there is an exceptionally elaborate process of operating this device that is hard to follow. In this process, doing just one step slightly wrong will lead to nullifying all the work done. This is where the training comes in.
By creating an application for the HoloLens that takes you through the process of operating this laser, letting you interact with the control panel in augmented reality, it will be much easier to train people on how to properly use this laser. The use of holograms allows this training to make understanding how to operate this device much easier and memorable. With this application, users will be able to simulate using the laser and will understand exactly what they are doing wrong (if anything). Research has found that AR simulations can greatly help to understand training. At Wisconsin Technical College System researchers concluded that in their Augmented Reality Simulation study “Results showed versatile use and favorable reviews.” (Carlson, & Gagnon, 2016).
While developing this application, the students used Unity to define space and menus. By using this commonly used engine to develop the application, the students can draw on their past experiences with Unity while gaining new experience designing immersive AR software. The HoloLens compatibility of Unity shows how easy it is to develop for the HoloLens, considering how Unity is already a hugely popular development platform and it has an integrated Toolkit specifically for the HoloLens. When it comes to the hardware used for development, the team used the GoPro Fusion 360 camera that is available to any student to use through Student Computing Service’s Gear2Go program. 360 cameras like this are also great for VR development and make it easy for any student or faculty member to make impressive immersive experiences.
Carlson, K. J., & Gagnon, D. J. (2016). Featured Article: Augmented Reality Integrated Simulation Education in Health Care. Clinical Simulation In Nursing, 12(Special Issue: Gaming), 123-127. doi:10.1016/j.ecns.2015.12.005