Lots of special messages you receive by email ought to be things you can hold in your hands, or on paper. Printing is expensive (time, carbon-footprint, resources, etc) and having access to a printer these days is starting to be as rare as having a CD or DVD-drive on your laptop. It's the experience of seeing it on paper that makes all the difference - so, why not virtualize to create the effect?

What it does

HoloEmail lets you load that special email as a hologram - anywhere you are and anywhere you want to be. Read your email on paper without actually having to print it!

Read email on virtual paper - as a AR hologram, anywhere you are - and also in VR, anywhere you want to be!

How to use it

0) Forward the email you want to show to - or browse existing (Yes, this is style)

Open the HoloEmail app: 1) Search for the subject line in the first screen. 2) Select your email from the subject line list.

Customize the font and font size 3) Touch the bottom menu to choose the font, and drag the slider right above to change the font size.

Change the decor in VR Mode 4) Touch either the bottle/drink or the background to randomly change it to something else.

As the email is loading - choose the real life paper you want to replace with your email 5) Enter AR mode or hologram mode by pressing the top left corner button. 6) Tap the double-arrow button when tracking mode shows the green label reading: "Align your device parallel to the surface and press here." => Your email is now placed on that paper!

7) Hold your email in your real hands - Move your device around and have fun!

How I built it

I hacked this together on Sunday using AReality3D RealityScript, a rapid prototyping framework built on top of Unity (that also builds to iOS/Android/Windows Phone/WebGL etc)

I'm currently using regex "any match" for subject search, but the default exact subject line search that ContextIO uses may be more fitting if we get more people sending emails they want to display.

Challenges I ran into

ContextIO OAuth issues. I couldn't get 3-legged OAuth 2 to work securely, so pivoted to a "Post Secret" style omni-email address, where people forward emails to a public address that feeds into the ContextIO API.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

The pivot. This may also help with rate limits, as these will ideally only be email-to-be-displayed that people want to share with others. (Hopefully not spam.)

What I learned

I shouldn't have been thinking about this so much while camping in the boundary waters where there was no Internet.

What's next for HoloEmail

More style/customization features.

Also: What if you can leave these virtual 3D email messages for anyone to find? What if you can leave email in the real world without having to actually print it?

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posted an update

Urgent notice to my Dear Followers:

Please vote for my whimsical AR/VR "read your email as a hologram" AR/VR project to help me win the People's Choice Award for the Context IO Challenge.

I'm generally too low-key to win at popularity contests, but I'm delighted that you (and actually several others) are following me... Maybe...

Let's see what happens! :)

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