Yes, only developers have access to the Microsoft HoloLens, and there’s no telling when the augmented reality headset will be available to consumers. But that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from showing off the merits of its Actiongram app for the HoloLens.
Actiongrams are what Microsoft calls “motion-reality captures,” or video that your HoloLens records of a real-life scene—but with some virtual objects interjected into that scene. Microsoft posted several examples of what a HoloLens Actiongram could look like, from something like a quick, fun video with a dog…
…to something more akin to a short movie. (This is probably the cleverest of the four examples that Microsoft posted today.) Really, who doesn’t like a clueless Teddy Roosevelt with the emotional maturity of a five-year-old?
Microsoft said it has built a virtual holographic studio where it has imported different actors, characters, objects, and creatures that can be captured as holograms. We’ve already seen a few: “Ned,” the zombie at the top of the screen, Teddy Roosevelt, a dinosaur, and more. From the videos, it appears that there’s a pretty broad range of behavior these avatars can display, though it’s unclear whether you’ll be able to actually “control” them.
If there’s anything that should give you pause, though, it’s a comment made by a Microsoft HoloLens employee that an Actiongram project could be produced in an “afternoon.” That implies a greater time commitment than most consumers seem interested in—given the trend toward video that’s produced and shared within minutes. Especially if we’re talking about something that will be watched once or twice or discarded.
(In fact, you need look no further than Microsoft’s own Project Spark game-creation tool for an unfortunate example of a creative platform that has gone largely ignored. It went down for several days recently, and speculation was that Microsoft was preparing to kill Project Spark as part of a recent studio purge. Microsoft declined to comment. At press time, it’s alive.)
Still, Microsoft is right in positing that interaction with virtual objects is, at this point, a feature that’s unique to HoloLens. It’s sort of amazing to think that consumers who grew up watching the intersection of virtual dinosaurs and real objects in Jurassic Park can now potentially star in their own version of the movie, or something of the like—even if it takes some effort to get things exactly right.