As technology evolves, it’s imperative for companies to evolve with it. AR devices such as the Microsoft Hololens provide interesting opportunities to visualize spaces and data. As they become more mainstream, one of the challenges corporations will face is adapting current high tech tools to these platforms.
Last year a client of ours released a web data visualization tool for their most prized commercial offices (more than 1,175 buildings) over 52 markets. The tool features a summary of occupancy, rent and investment trends, themes that shape the different markets, and a floor-by-floor data analyses for each building. We re-created it for the Hololens.
BIT OF MAGIC
To create this AR experience, we needed to get acquainted with two things. The first was the data visualization tool itself, specifically who its users are and what they use it for. The second was the Hololens, which had not been released to the public yet.
As far as understanding the visualization tool, we had direct access to the people who created it. We got a great sense of what the most common use cases were, where the tool falls short, and future plans for it. We were then able to spec out a list of desired “experiences” when bringing it into the AR world.
Getting acquainted with Hololens proved to be more of a challenge. The documentation released for developing in Hololens was sparse and constantly evolving. There were only a handful of people that had any hands on experience with the device in the world. We now are included in that small group. We worked with Microsoft to fix early bugs and issues.
For this project, we implemented an agile process, releasing new features every week and gathering feedback to iterate on. This feedback loop was vital to creating the best possible product, while staying on schedule and on budget. These weekly calls also ensure that everyone is on the same page about the project, and that no one was ever left in the dark about anything.
Recreating a 2D app for the Hololens involves going back to the drawing board and figuring out how to utilize AR for the best possible user experience. We wanted the design to be awe-inspiring, something you would never see anywhere else besides maybe a Hollywood film. The main function included not just the most common user flows of the tool, but also features that would allow the app to demonstrate the capabilities of the Hololens (like spatial recognition, air tap, etc).
Instead of pointing and clicking, users can look and air tap. They can say things like “view vacancies on floor 5” or “show me our buildings in Chicago”.
This project will allow our client to show off the possibility of using the Hololens for products like this and other data visualization projects. It's also a major hit at trade shows and a brilliant conversation starter.