101 Ideas for the Microsoft HoloLens

Published on Thursday, April 30, 2015

HoloLens has the potential to change how we live, drastically.

Microsoft Build is Microsoft's annual developer conference. I attended the conference in 2013 and 2014 for work and had a blast both times. This year I couldn't attend since we have been living in France (a good excuse) but I still wanted to catch the livestream of this year's keynote.

Since we were in Bordeaux during the keynote, I was watching the livestream while sipping on some cheap red wine (no worries, it was night and we were done for the day).

I was getting pretty excited as things progressed. Visual Studio Code was pretty awesome, adding websites to the Windows Store was pretty awesome (especially for Keep Track of My Games), but more than any of that, the Microsoft HoloLens announcement and demos blew my mind.

If you haven't seen the HoloLens demo from the keynote, it starts around 2:48:30:

Is your mind sufficiently blown? Mine was too. It was indistinguishable from magic (as it is sufficiently advanced).

All at once, like a tidal wave unannounced, a whole slew of ideas ran through my head on what kinds of possibilities could be made possible with HoloLens. Some of them assume certain functionality or environment conditions are there, but there's no use dreaming if you can't dream a little bit ahead of the curve, right?

After the keynote, I was excited but we had to find a place to eat. We settled on Santosha, a local Thai place where all the young "hip" French people go. During dinner that night, Cassie and I discussed tons of cool uses for Lens and though my lovely wife isn't a developer nor a self-identified "techie", I could see her excitement as she thought of things that would be cool and we both exchanged ideas.

I kept having ideas afterward too. Too many! As a mental excercise and to ensure the ideas go down somewhere, I decided I'd write a post about it. So here goes: 101 Ideas for the Microsoft HoloLens. Ideas are cheap, so I'm sharing them. Probably, like many ideas, some of these are trash. Others are promising. Others probably are not possible with the current HoloLens technology. Still others may inspire you with an idea. Whatever came out of my head, I wrote it down and made no priority or judgement calls.

The 101 Ideas

These are not ordered in any specific order, except by stream of conciousness:

  1. Allow you to view your videogame character in 3D space and inspect them, or their inventories
  2. Holographic UI to assist in playing a game
  3. Instant board / table-top games with other people using HoloLens
  4. Play virtual sports (real or fake, like Quidditch)
  5. Geo-based holograph reality game (requires 4G/LTE HoloLens)
  6. Insane horror game
  7. Virtual legos/Minecraft in 3D space
  8. Helping kids with autism with a "social avatar buddy"
  9. To-do list (to-do's all over)
  10. Cooking companion (visualize recipes)
  11. Virtual decorations for your house ("Decoration Store")
  12. HoloLens restaurant
  13. Visualize how to decorate your home ("Oh the couch would look nice here")
  14. Photos on the wall
  15. Running apps -- rendered zombies or whatever behind you
  16. Inspecting your car (what is this? where is this?)
  17. Car windshields equipped with holo display
  18. HoloContacts -- eventually HoloLens inside a contact lens
  19. Virtual partner
  20. Visualizing clothing or haircut
  21. Google Earth/StreetView for low-cost travel
  22. Wall-sized environments ala Hunger Games wall (forest, lakes, beach, etc.)
  23. Reading a book to your kid (project pages in space/onto wall)
  24. Virtual reading / bookshelf (reach out, take a virtual book, hold and read/flip pages)
  25. Holo Sims game (lonely? get a roommate)
  26. Cortana in person
  27. Virtual window weather app--so the window reflects what it's like outside
  28. Pin specific types of news stories
  29. Fridge pinning
  30. Virtual pinned calendar for easy planning
  31. Pin your kids' projects on the fridge (teacher saves through Internet => home)
  32. Rotating posters or /r/aww or awwpets.com on your wall
  33. On your fridge, post what you eat/or say it and view it right there
  34. Object recognition for food in fridge/pantry --> pantry app, "Cortana, what do I need to make Beef Stroganoff?"
  35. Pin shows in Netflix near TV so I can tap and watch/resume
  36. Portable screen for playing games (LAN parties anyone?)
  37. Ceiling craziness (skyboxes, night sky)
  38. Live holo concerts
  39. Holo Videos -- videos shot in 3D space (HoloTV, HoloTube, etc.)
  40. New controllers for games
  41. Controlling robots (demo'd at keynote)
  42. Holo UI for devices that have no physical UI
  43. Level designer for games / engines (modders or artists or developers) -- Unity: Holo Editor
  44. AI pets
  45. Home automation
  46. Butler -- think Barkley from Modern Family (thanks Cassie!)
  47. Assisted seeing for people with some visual problems or the elderly
  48. Private vs. Shared holographic experiences
  49. Vehicle training
  50. Inspection of literally anything that can be rendered in 3D
  51. Skyrim IRL
  52. "Second Space" for games
  53. Virtual monitors / screens
  54. Holo UI for phones
  55. Collaboration apps -- tech repair, construction, etc.
  56. Physical tutorials or manuals for a device/object
  57. Watch Dogs style meta information about the world
  58. Museums (tours, virtual guides, audio, etc.)
  59. "Anywhere" computer with mouse/keyboard (if even)
  60. Modeling, painting, artwork, holo canvas
  61. Holo GPS for walking/driving navigation
  62. Restaurant Lens -- imagine FourSquare laid on top of the world, as you see it
  63. LARPing heaven
  64. Virtual darts (or any other wall game)
  65. Hiking/walking assist (trails)
  66. Immersive livestreaming
  67. Shared first-person experiences (travel, etc.)
  68. Augmented TV (show interaction, show metadata, etc.)
  69. ENHANCE (digital zoom / binoculars)
  70. Home repair assist
  71. Webcam/streams/Dropcam pinned to walls (Security Wall, near bed, etc.)
  72. Night vision (infrared projection + spatial mapping)
  73. Holo lyrics for the song you're listening to (or music video)
  74. Virtual note-taking (take a photo, mark it up, store in notebook)
  75. "Copy/paste" -- see/map a physical object, clone it into a holograph
  76. Map a physical object, create a game engine 3D mesh/model and texture
  77. Classroom teaching (holo whiteboards, shared whiteboards, shared models, etc.)
  78. Virtual Fighter (or Trainer)
  79. Exercise examples
  80. FitBit/Band + HoloLens = Virtual Holo Data
  81. Virtual bowling
  82. Tattoo design/preview
  83. In-store augmentation -- "Target: Where's scissors?", shows a holo GPS navigation in the store
  84. 3D/Holo Snapchat -- "Help me Obi Wan Kenobi"
  85. Holo Celebrities -- "Is that James Franco sitting on your couch?"
  86. Holo music making (holo guitar, holo drums, etc.)
  87. Anatomy / surgery training for doctors, nurses
  88. Simulations -- physics, games, etc.
  89. Countdown app
  90. Social feed (birthdays, events, etc.) -- pin specific people
  91. Facial recognition -- infinite uses
  92. Shared workspace notes/etc
  93. Holo Coupons -- only people using HoloLens would see promos in-store
  94. Virtual graffiti
  95. City/"Space" augmentation -- infinite uses, tourism guides, GPS/location based, augment builings, signs, indoor augmentation, etc.
  96. Metro/transit augmentation -- real-time GPS info, visualize upcoming stops, route, etc.
  97. Sex-ed (shudders)
  98. Augmented physical books
  99. Gardening (reminder for watering, seasons, plant timeframes, etc.)
  100. Knitting counter (keeps track of your stitches)
  101. Pet augmentation (when last fed, last walked, any other tracking data for your pet)

And so on and so forth.

I want a HoloLens

Basically if you can't tell, I would like to be wearing HoloLens all the time (in fact, for many of these ideas, you'd have to for them to be practical).

There are literally infinite uses for this technology, as virtual space is infinite, the Earth is a large place and we do a lot of things we need help with. I find HoloLens even more compelling than the Oculus Rift because HoloLens doesn't [necessarily] replace the world; it just augments it—which makes it much more manageable to be wearing all the time.

Let's say in 10-20 years, the technology progresses enough that it can be miniaturized in a contact lens or even glasses (with your prescription). We'd all be equipped with a Lens and we'd all have shared/private holograph experiences. Would that ever happen? Glasses seems doable. If it's as easy as what I do with my current prescription glasses and it's fashionable, I'm sold. As for everyone having one? There are more phones than people in this world and that's happened relatively fast (for humans). Anything is possible. All you need is a killer app.

Have your own ideas?

Make a list and share it below (or link to your blog).

About Kamran
I'm a technologist, speaker, and Pluralsight author and I specialize in building full-stack solutions with a focus on modern web technology and cloud native architecture.
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