When you're visiting an unfamiliar place, it's currently very clunky to acclimate yourself with your new surroundings. Although you have information in the palm of your hands, you don't necessarily want to keep pulling your phone out of your pocket and manually search for restaurants, gas stations, and other points of interest. We see Hololens as a stepping stone towards more natural location services, by allowing the user to access information in the blink of an eye, rather than in the palm of your hands.
What it does
HoloScene queries for you location from your mobile device and populates your surrounding field-of-view with points of interest. This allows you to view nearby restaurants, landmarks, and more right in your own Hololens device. At each point of interest (POI) waypoint, you can also tap to get more information, such as the name of the landmark, a brief description, a related image, and Yelp review if applicable. You can also move around in the augmented reality world, allowing you to approach and interact with waypoints in 3D space, naturally, as if they were real objects.
How I built it
We used Unity and Visual C# to build the interface and infrastructure for the Hololens, Android Studio and Bluetooth Low Energy beacon technology for the location data transfer to the Hololens, and Bing Maps Spatial Data Services to query for nearby landmarks and POIs. The objects in Unity are dynamically generated and scripted based on queried JSON GIS data.
Challenges I ran into
Unity and the Bluetooth interface had steep learning curves; Although we experienced many exciting moments of success when developing with Unity, ultimately our inexperience slowed our development process.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We're very proud of the fact that we got dynamic objects to render and interact with in Unity, considering we had started learning development the same day, as well as finishing the Bluetooth Low Energy beacon to transfer otherwise non-existant location data from our Android device to the Hololens. Initial research indicated that it was nigh impossible, but we found out how to do it in the end! :)
What I learned
We all learned a lot about Unity development and Bluetooth technologies. The scripting interface for Unity was a definite acquired skill from this project!
What's next for HoloScene
Originally, we intended to access routing and directions data and augment that to the user, but we decided it was too much to learn in one day. Hopefully in the future we can bring this feature to light as well!