The game was unveiled this weekend in Los Angeles at the VRLA conference where Microsoft and a team of AR developers allowed me to enter a surrealist forest construct where holographic eggs could be found using the HoloLens headset.
While the rest of the world can only see the physical environment of the forest room space, using the HoloLens I was immediately presented with a living landscape, filled with the sounds of birds, animated flowers and rabbits furtively scurrying around the space. And when I discovered my first Easter Egg, the egg responded to my gaze by exploding open into a Disney-like flourish of color and sound.
In previous HoloLens demonstrations, I viewed virtual objects and figures floating in space in an open room, but here the virtual objects interacted with the room’s freestanding physical features in very specific ways. For example, when I made my final egg discovery, a small dragon emerged from the egg.
But instead of hovering in place, the virtual dragon flew above my head and then traveled around the very real tree construct in the room and then returned to its original position.
“There’s mapping that’s done with a depth camera that creates a 3D mesh of the world and that’s synced with head tracking,” said AfterNow’s Philippe Lewicki (one of the producers of the experience), explaining how the marriage of the virtual and the real was accomplished.
Beyond AR games likePokmon Goand the like, this is the first time we’ve seen a glimpse of what might be possible when merging pre-mapped real world environments with AR in a way that blurs the line between reality and the vast possibilities of holographic experiences.
The game only lasts about three minutes, but the experience serves as a powerful demonstration of what popular live shows like Sleep No More (an interactive play that lets the audience roam throughout elaborate sets) could do with AR experiences powered by devices like the HoloLens.
“This project really is a proof of concept for a best case scenario of a much more elaborate pre-built experience,” says Ralph Barbagallo, the founder of Flarb, the AR company that built the majority of the Easter Egg app experience for the HoloLens. “Imagine an amusement style attraction with film-quality assets and more advanced headsets with wider FOVs and the ability to not only additively draw on top of your vision but replace what you are seeing as well.”
And although this particular experience isn’t slated to be rolled out widely to the public, when this kind of AR-meets-custom-real-world-environment treatment does hit the mainstream in coming years, it will finally deliver on some of the promises we’ve heard from futurecasters about how AR may change how we interact with the real world.
And to answer the question that I know is burning in your brain, yes, there “was” very real and very tasty HoloLens chocolate waiting for us after finding our virtual eggs.