The coolest thing about using a HoloLens developer kit right now is experiencing the pace at which new ideas appear within this headset. Developers from every walk of life are coming to terms with this new kind of computing experience, and building ideas to suit the eventual needs of folks using Windows Holographic. While you could take a glance at the Holo-friendly apps in the Windows Store and get a reasonable-ish idea of what kind of experiences exist out of the box, actually using these apps in day to day life is what makes all of this feel like something new and exciting. Here's a quick list of what we're talking about!
Apps live where you tell them to live
The strangest thing about using HoloLens is seeing an app that you opened a day ago still sitting somewhere in your home or office, waiting to be used again. HoloLens maps out your physical space and lets you pin apps all over the place, and they stay. You can have the weather report floating in your bathroom mirror, or Netflix placed just above your kitchen stove, and HoloLens will keep those pins in the same place you left them when you come back into the room.
In most situations, we view apps as mostly temporary things that exist when we need them. It's unusual and kind of exciting to walk into a room and see an app waiting there for you to interact with it, as though you left a floating television paused.
Augmented Reality with everyday objects
Most folks who have used some form of Augmented Reality in the past recognize the setup as specifically bound to objects related to the overall experience. When you want to play with AR, you grab the special AR thing and place it in front of a camera. The software turns that fairly nondescript thing into something 3D and digital, which makes everyone smile. HoloLens is unique in the way its cameras can be set to be much more precise, allowing AR to happen when images or patterns are recognized by the cameras and software.
This card game demo is a perfect example. These cards aren't specially designed for HoloLens or the software written for it. These are the same cards anyone can buy from any game store, cards that did not have this AR ability when they were first released.
Natural hand and voice actions
Hand gestures in most situations are very deliberate and frequently require re-calibration. Even Microsoft's Kinect platform requires you stand with your hand out and wait for that hand to be recognized before you can do anything. HoloLens has no such requirement. You hands are tracked almost instantly and precisely. You can reach out and touch something without really thinking about the way you are doing it. The camera setup in HoloLens picks up your hand immediately and starts looking for the commands needed to do things.
The same can be said for voice commands. Cortana is more responsive on HoloLens than has ever been available on Windows Phone, due in no small part to the way the microphone is listening and the way the system is designed to make Cortana available immediately. It's not quite as quick right now when executing the commands you give Cortana, but HoloLens clearly has the building blocks for something great.
A new way to play
HoloLens is not a gaming platform, but you wouldn't know that by looking at some of the incredible experiences that have been built so far. Microsoft's HoloLens games, Young Conker and RoboRaid and Fragments, are all unique, incredible experiences that fill your room with something great. Third-party developers are working hard to create experiences that are both new and familiar, as demonstrated by this amazing Super Mario Bros. video.
Minecraft and Nintendo remakes aren't going to make HoloLens appealing to the world, but it's incredible to see just how much unique entertainment is already available in Windows Holographic.