Although you can use the Microsoft HoloLens outdoors, it can be quite hard to see anything as the device cannot block light, only add light. If the surroundings are much brighter than the screens inside or vice-versa, then the holograms are not particularly convincing.
I hope future generations of the headset have an active LCD layer, in order to selectively block out light across the screen. In the meantime, I decided to try plastic film used to tint windows or lighting, to see if it would help reduce the light coming in from the real world when outdoors.
First I bought some plastic film from a photographic store. This particular one blocks about 60% of the light and is neutral density. You could also use film for car windows. I then cut out a shape that would roughly fit around the front of the device. Please note, the front of the device curves in two different dimensions so unless you have pre-curved plastic you will only be able to bend it horizontally not vertically.
Here I am holding the film up to a window just to show the amount of light it cuts out.
This is the finished ‘visor’ taped to the HoloLens.
I then tested out the visor by visiting a local playing field and downloading the ‘ARchitect’ App as a suitable test.
See the video footage at the top of the page for results.
A few things I wanted to test:
- If I added a visor to the HoloLens, how easily I would be able to see Holograms when I was outside and how well would they blend with scenery outside. For reference, it was an overcast day in December in the UK (not sunny).
- How far away I could walk away from Holograms or walk around them.
- How well it would track outdoors.
- How realistic large life-size models were.
- Cutting out 60% of the daylight seemed just the right amount to make holograms clearly visible but not overly bright outdoors.
- Although there was very little for the depth cameras to lock onto, the tracking did an amazing job. Having a few large 3D objects in the foreground would probably help the tracking and could be used as reference markers for placing virtual content.
- I could walk a lot further away than I thought would be possible and still get meaningful views from the device.
- Tinting the visor does not affect mixed video recording from the device that much as the camera has auto-exposure.
- Setting up a platform for the height of the first storey of the house would be amazing, in order to get the right perspective from upstairs windows or you could even use a small cherry picker.
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