What’s all this hype about?

Currently our vision to the future is too often heads-down and hand-held within a medium that delivers great content, but often lacks the context with your environment and furthers the isolation that blind us from the moments that truly matter.

Augmented reality is not by any means new. It has always seemed to overpromise and underdeliver—from its inception in 1990, to its first mobile phone integration in 2004, and lastly in 2014 with Google Glass. So why are we so enamored with mixed reality now if AR really didn’t deliver in the past?

Our excitement visualized in Gartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle shows how VR has paved the way for AR and is inching its way out of “Inflated Expectations” and in 2016, will climb towards the “Plateau of Productivity.” However, VR’s lack of immersive content, its form factor and the industry's focus on gaming and entertainment has opened our eyes to the need for mixed reality experiences that live within our physical world.

People, not devices, are mobile. We are ready for technology to move beyond devices, beyond screens and pixels, and beyond today’s digital borders.
— Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow, Operating System Group at Microsoft

Now with Microsoft’s HoloLens products in the market—and most importantly in the capable hands of inventors, architects, designers and dreamers—we are now just starting to see some of the use cases this incredible piece of technology can deliver.

It is important to note the Hololens isn’t solely about augmenting holograms into your world. Its numerous sensors and inputs include depth-sensing cameras and light sensors that empower computer vision, and a microphone array and spacial sound outputs that surround you in 360 degree audio. From voice to vision to AI, HoloLens delivers the strengths Microsoft has been refining for years.

Valuing change and innovating outside the lines

The early focus for mixed reality applications will be at the enterprise level and will aid in the disruption of existing processes, creating new lines of communications, the visualization of data and analytics and augmenting our new world with experiences that deliver unprecedented value.

The value of change that we can expect will far outweigh the existing mobile app landscape and economy we now obsess over. After all, what place does a “phone” really have in a world that is augmenting content within it?

Below are a few questions and pointers to help guide you towards a successful workshop to ideate on the possibilities of mixed reality applications and onto a prototype and pilot.

Step back and look forward

  • How has the Internet disrupted your information and communications?
  • How have mobile connected devices changed the way you work?

Keep your head in the clouds

  • Don’t get hung up on existing legacy processes.
  • Think as if all data is accessible anytime and anywhere.

Get physical

  • Are there physical processes that require hands-on moments that a head-up display (HUD) could better deliver?
  • What is the value of physical information related to an object or product?
  • How can voice and neuro-linguistic programming assist your experience?
  • What dimensionality could you bring to the content?
  • How could image recognition and environment scanning be leveraged?

Making the great even greater

  • How can AI play a role in your HoloLens App? 
  • How would analytics be visualized in the world?
  • How could collaboration and co-creation benefit the experience?

Transformational thinking and experiences do not happen overnight. If your company does not have an innovation arm, augment the team with a unique blend of agile technologists, creatives and experience architects. If there are larger needs, you may want to look at an IAOR (innovation agency of record) relationship to increase the speed of ideas, prototypes and pilots.

Here are a few additional resources that might help you write the future of our new world. Enjoy!

Header image source: Microsoft

Wade Forst (@wadeforst) is Senior Director for the Razorfish Emerging Experiences team, based out of our San Francisco office.