May 16, 2017

WorkLink Uses the HoloLens to Capture 3D Scans

I didn't say the scans were hi-res...

Microsoft’s HoloLens uses clever technology to lay digital holographic images on top of your view of the physical world. But that visualization magic is possible only because the HoloLens is a 3D capture device, too. The device is constantly performing a low-level 3D scan of its environment to gather the spatial information needed to place its holograms in a way that looks realistic.

For a while, I’ve wondered when an app will exploit the HoloLens’ 3D-scanning hardware for capture purposes. ScopeAR’s WorkLink does just that.

WorkLink uses the 3D capture device to enable rapid design of augmented reality instructions. To use it, walk around an object wearing a HoloLens (like an industrial machine), and the app captures a 3D model of the device. After that, open the model in the software and build out your instructions with animations, videos, and other notations. A field user then loads the instructions in a HoloLens, which projects the holographic notations back over the real world object.

Here’s how the company describes the app:

Our content creation platform allows the rapid development of augmented reality work instructions, allowing you to use converted 3D models, add engaging animations, text, images, videos, checklists, etc. in a branched workflow, to give intuitive, visual instructions. Once ‘smart’ instructions are deployed into the field, the digital instructions automatically start collecting valuable data such as time per step, user and usage information, geo location, etc to give insight to an organization and empower users to continuously improve their processes.

At SPAR 3D this year, I heard a number of industry veterans discussing the future of the incognito 3D sensors hidden in augmented reality devices. As these devices get better, they said, and more and more consumers buy them, won’t that mean we’re 3D scanning most of the built environment at all times? Could that someday data someday replace the lidar data we’ve relied on so far?

We’re not quite there yet, but WorkLink certainly feels like a step in that direction.

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