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Microsoft's HoloLens Gets Jerry-Rigged 'Spectator View'

It's hard to make virtual reality, augmented reality, or mixed reality look cool. The experiences themselves can be fascinating to whoever dons an HMD, but to bystanders, using these devices is like watching a cyborg have a mental breakdown. Microsoft wants to make its upcoming HoloLens a little bit easier to grok, so it's published a step-by-step guide to setting up what it calls "Spectator view" to let HoloLens users better share their experiences.

HoloLens itself has been shown off to the public in different ways. The first demo, which we saw at Build 2015, took place in small hotel rooms devoid of any recording equipment. A year later we saw more spectacular demo at Build 2016 with many different stations, and Microsoft has steadily released videos showing the AR headset in action. But those are the efforts of a giant tech company; how's the average Joe supposed to show off the wondrous potential of AR?

If this new Spectator view is any indication, the answer is "not easily." Microsoft distilled the setup down to four key points on its developer website:

An app built specifically to enable spectator view, which is based on shared holographic experiences.A user wearing HoloLens using the app.A spectator view camera rig providing a third-person perspective video.A desktop PC running the shared experience app and compositing the holograms into a spectator view video.

The actual setup requires a little more work than that list implies. Microsoft provided an eight-part hardware shopping list; seven different software components; and a multi-step guide to setting up the camera rig. From there, HoloLens users have to calibrate the system and set up a Unity extension that combines what the AR headset displays and what's happening in the real world. Don't expect to get Spectator view working in just a few minutes.

But that's unlikely to deter HoloLens owners. Dev kits started to ship in March 2016 for $3,000 each--the parts needed to provide a high-end MR experience aren't cheap--and the product hasn't been commercially released. Anyone who a) owns HoloLens and b) wants Spectator view is probably comfortable with building a camera rig and fiddling with a bunch of software until it works. Now's the perfect time for jerry-rigged solutions like this.

The full guide to setting up Spectator view is available on Microsoft's dev site. The company also made a video about the rig-building process.

  • Jeff Fx
    It looks like they're trying to exaggerate the field of view on HoloLens again like in the TV demos. The reality is very disappointing to people who fell for the advertising.
    Reply
  • NinjaNerd56
    Jury-rigged, not Jerry-rigged unless Jerry Lewis or Springer became engineers overnight.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    19292480 said:
    It looks like they're trying to exaggerate the field of view on HoloLens again like in the TV demos.
    Depends on the point of the visualization. If it's intended to simulate the experience of wearing it, then you're right.

    But, if you simply want to show the synthetic elements of the scene, then there's no reason to restrict the visualization, based on the capabilities & constraints of another device.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    19292480 said:
    It looks like they're trying to exaggerate the field of view on HoloLens again like in the TV demos. The reality is very disappointing to people who fell for the advertising.

    It's first-gen dev hardware anyway. In the second generation of hardware, I would bet things like FoV improves. Hopefully they can also work on making spectator mode easier to implement, though I imagine that's not really high on the priority list when a consumer version isn't on the market yet.
    Reply
  • parkerthon
    Jerry-rigged is perfectly correct. I always understood it as being derived from World War 2 for the hastily repaired and inevitably abandoned German equipment allies would come across as they advanced. Googling it does seem like the origin is actually much more ambiguous and, unbeknownst to me, jury-rigged apparently is a more popular version today in the states and media anyway. Not sure why since a "rigged jury" doesn't sound like something put together from a bunch of random pieces on the fly which I believe is what the author is alluding to here.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    19297268 said:
    Jerry-rigged is perfectly correct.

    Yep, going by the top answer here, it sounds like jerry-rigged is actually most likely a play on the terms jury-rigged and jerry-built. In short, jury-rigging does not mean anything related to manipulating a court jury, but rather originally referred to rigging a "jury sail" on a boat, which was a temporary makeshift mast or sail used for repairs, and as such, jury-rigging can refer to putting something together out of makeshift parts. Jerry-built, on the other hand, refers to something that is poorly constructed, with the origin being a bit more vague. Jerry-rigging then would combine the two, and refer to something that was not only put together using makeshift materials, but also not structurally sound. Really, there's a fair amount of overlap between the terms, and both are probably used more or less interchangeably now.

    According to Google, it finds 274,000 page results for "jury-rigged", and 184,000 for "jerry-rigged", so both terms apparently see a similar amount of use.


    19294117 said:
    19292480 said:
    It looks like they're trying to exaggerate the field of view on HoloLens again like in the TV demos.
    Depends on the point of the visualization. If it's intended to simulate the experience of wearing it, then you're right.

    For the first usage scenario described in Microsoft's video, they say...

    "To showcase your app in the Windows store, or on social media, spectator view allows you to take still photos of your mixed reality scene. And because the photo will be taken with a high-quality camera, it will be a more realistic representation of what HoloLens users will see."
    More realistic, if we ignore that the device has a rather narrow field of view for its displays. Using the lava example they were depicting, it would look much less immersive in the actual device than what was shown there. Instead of seeing the room filled with lava, you would see a clipped off rectangle of lava in front of you, with bare floor all around the edges. I suppose it's reasonable to depict an experience that way, though there really should be a disclaimer about the field of view. I doubt we'll see a massive FOV improvement in the second generation hardware either, at least not without making the device bulkier. And I already suspect that many people will consider it a bit too bulky for long-term use as it is.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    On a related note, I'm waiting for games where one person can use a Kinect 2 + Xbox One or PC, and the other(s) can use Hololens, in the same space.
    Reply