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[This blog post was originally posted on HoloHouse: A Collaboration between SAP d-shop Silicon Valley and Global Co-Innovation Labs]
Manfred Pauli, Director of the Helix Platform, Global Co-Innovation Labs, contacted the d-shop Silicon Valley with regards of a project his team was working on. We had recently purchased a Microsoft HoloLens and we were getting knowledgeable about the technology through coding some small demos.
Pauli’s team was working on a bank/real estate application for the “Bank of the Future” to be showcased in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in about 3 weeks, so the deadline was approaching. The project was to virtually display three houses: the user would select one to view from all sides and lift the ceiling of each floor to view its interior, then decide which one to physically visit. The Microsoft HoloLens was the platform of choice due to its mixed reality capabilities.
Though our team was very small (only 3 people) and the project seemed complicated, we took on the challenge. At first, the difficulty laid in our lack of knowledge because we had just gotten our hands on the HoloLens. With Unity, the development engine for the device, we had learned it only a couple of weeks prior. However, we were confident in our ability to research new technologies and quickly come up to speed for Pauli’s team.
Our first iteration was a 3D rendering of a small Lego house, which we purchased in order to do initial testing.
The demo may give off an impression that this project is actually simple. As we iterated it became clear to us that our basic prototype provided the necessary groundwork for understanding the project better. We gained more knowledge and insights about the functionalities of the HoloLens, getting us excited about how it can transform a user’s experience.
We used Unity for HoloLens with C# as the scripting language. The HoloLens emulator and the actual device played a pivotal role in helping us test and give shape to the product. We also used professionally rendered models from an external design company we worked with, so that we can display images that were as similar as possible to what a potential homebuyer would see.
As you can see in the following video, things really changed. The application went through seven major iterations, which involved adding new features, fixing others, and removing some. We were essentially aiming to produce the best user experience possible with our prototype at this stage.
I guess you might be interested in some of the technical problems we faced. Here is a brief recap.
- The modeled houses came separated by floors, so we had to fit them together manually.
- Getting the right dimension of the colliders was difficult. The colliders prevented the floors from overlapping. Giving a user the ability to virtually lift each floor meant that each had to sit on top of the other.
- Getting the post sign message to work. Unity for HoloLens does not come with extra libraries, so we needed to create one of our own. Doing a marquee is not hard, but doing it on a 3D object with the text on top of the sign can be tricky. As you can see in the video, sometimes it works, sometimes it gets out of focus.
- Even though we used C# as the scripting language, this wasn’t exactly the same C# in Visual Studio. Being Unity oriented, C# had some little changes, and sometimes it was hard to figure out what to use.
After we had finished our last release at the d-shop, the Global Co-Innovation Lab took over. They assembled a team of great people that included Roberto Urban, Dennis Heisig, Johannes Nichell and Michael Herwig to continue the work and take it to the next level.
When we saw their first iteration, we were completely amazed at how much they had improved the application. They did an amazing job!
This, of course, is not their latest version. To make the application a state of the art product, a lot more had been added and improved upon.
The kind of collaboration between our teams was good and positive. So good that we got nominated for the Hasso Plattner Founders’ Award 2016, which in and of itself was a great recognition of all the participants’ hard work and enthusiasm.
We just wanted to let you know our story…what’s yours? Any nice project you had worked on, or one you are beginning? Any collaboration between teams you would like to share? We’re listening. Here to share, learn and help with any questions and we would be more than happy to read your story.
– Your d-shop team