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When we think of reality headsets, our immediate thoughts go to viewing the world in a virtual reality (VR) from wherever we are in the world. Whether that be your own living room, office or business, VR headsets allow you to transport yourself into a completely different environment and immerse yourself in that world.
This is what makes HoloLens different.
HoloLens isn’t Virtual Reality (VR). HoloLens is Mixed Reality (MR).
The two things are very different, and marketers need to understand these differences in order to picture how HoloLens could form part of a business strategy moving forwards.
VR refers to computer technologies that use software to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment (or create an imaginary setting), and simulate a user’s physical presence in this environment, by enabling the user to interact with this space and any objects depicted therein using specialized display screens or projectors and other devices.
MR, sometimes also referred to as hybrid reality, is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualisations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.
“Microsoft HoloLens is the first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you.”
Before I start to go into detail about how brands could use HoloLens in the coming years, I want you to spend a couple of minutes watching this video from Microsoft, as it really sums up what it is trying to achieve.
I feel that Microsoft is really onto something here. I don’t necessarily see HoloLens as becoming a household product in the near future, but for brands looking to add a layer of ‘experience’ to their offering, there is so much that can be done, and this is what is exciting.
After attending the Bing Ads Next event in Seattle in November 2016, I sat down and started to think about how I see brands being able to use HoloLens and wanted to share these ideas with you to help you consider how you could use HoloLens in the future.
Let’s take a look at how five very different industries could use HoloLens. I have pulled in an example brand/business for each to help you really understand the full capabilities of HoloLens so we can put it into context.
If you have ever been to the Natural History Museum in the past, you will remember the huge skeleton of the diplodocus (named Dippy) that used to greet you on arrival. Schools and parents would bring children from all over the country and even the world to visit the museum and learn about the history surrounding our planet.
The dinosaur skeleton was a huge attraction, but imagine a world where the skeleton came to life. Think Jurassic Park meets the Natural History Museum! This could be possible with HoloLens.
The Natural History Museum could use HoloLens to give visitors to the museum an MR experience. When visitors popped the headset on, they could stand and look at the skeleton slowly be reconstructed with veins, arteries, muscle and tissue to educate visitors in how the body works. The grand finale could be the dinosaur actually coming to life and moving around the room in which the skeleton is situated. Foliage and other dinosaur creatures could join in the reality scene so visitors could see close up what life in the Jurassic age entailed.
I am lucky not to have experienced this myself, but I know from a number of friends and family members who have had cancer that one of the biggest unknowns for them was whether or not chemotherapy was going to make them lose their hair.
If BUPA were to use HoloLens, their patients could use the headset to scan their entire body and then superimpose a three-dimensional hologram of themselves in front of them. HoloLens could show them what they would look like without their hair so that this didn’t come as such a shock when/if it did actually happen. I think having a visual representation of your appearance would ease that concern somewhat and hopefully help to alleviate some of the worry.
Likewise, it could be used by cosmetic surgeons at BUPA to help their patients to see what they would look like after surgery. If a patient were having breast enlargement, they could visualise what their body would look like as they increased the cup size.
HoloLens could be a real opportunity for the medical industry to help patients further understand the impact of the surgery they would be having.
When looking to buy a new home, customers often visit the site where the home will be built and get to spend some time looking around the stunningly made up show homes to try to get a feel for what living there could be like. The décor is often extremely flamboyant and very rarely (if ever) would it match how a customer’s home looked currently.
With the adaption of HoloLens, Barratt Homes could create two versions of the show home: one in the usual style to give it that luxurious and dreamy feel, and another that was simply a shell with whitewashed walls. The second version of the home is where HoloLens would come into play.
Barratt Homes could visit their customers’ existing home, taking the HoloLens with them to capture three-dimensional images of each of the rooms and key pieces of furniture, before showing them round the show homes. On arrival at the show home, the customer could pop a HoloLens headset on and be able to visualise their own furniture in the different rooms. With the swipe of a hand gesture, they could move furniture around, put pictures up on the walls, change the colour of the carpets or even move things from room to room. This would help customers to visualise what living in the new home would actually be like.
Secondly, the HoloLens could be used to help customers see what the added extras could be for the property. For example, what would adding a conservatory do to the light coming into the lounge? Would a loft conversion be possible? How would the stairway impact the landing?
All this could be possible in an MR world with HoloLens.
Car showrooms are great places to visit if you are looking for a new car to get some inspiration on the type you want. However, they lack the ability to show potential customers their chosen car model with or without all the added features or in the variety of colours available.
Fiat could use HoloLens to help bring that full car purchase experience to their customers by allowing them to change the look and feel of the car that they are looking for. HoloLens could change the colour of the paintwork, add specific wheel trims, remove a sunroof and even help customers to see and understand what was under the bonnet of the car.
Parents could even visualise what the car would be like in the back if they added a car seat. How much room would be left? Will the child have enough leg room? If they knew the name of the pushchair they owned, they could see whether it would fit in the boot of the car.
HoloLens could completely change the car-buying experience.
Those of you who have been on a villa holiday will understand that the day of arrival can be quite stressful when you are greeted by the villa representative to show you around the villa. It’s often the last thing you actually want to do the moment you arrive, but it has to be done as the rep needs to get off to see their next customers. More often than not, you end up missing half the information that they tell you as your mind is elsewhere and you just want to get on with unpacking and getting settled.
If James Villas were to use HoloLens in each of their properties, the villa representative could show up to let customers in and then leave straight away as the headset could do all the work for them. Customers could pop the headset on in their own time and work their way around the villa, taking in the information they were being given through HoloLens. They could refer back to the headset whenever they were unsure of something, which would negate the need for the villa representative to be on hand as often.
If you are interested in finding out more about HoloLens, check out the dedicated website here: https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-gb
Likewise, if you are looking for more inspiration on how HoloLens can be used, here are a few of my favourite real-life working examples that I would recommend you watch.
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