HoloKit X seeks to make mixed reality copresence more accessible by allowing individuals in the same physical space to engage with virtual objects together in real-time. AR copresence encourages face-to-face interaction and interpersonal connections, showcasing AR technology's true potential. Inspired by the motto "A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality," we address the high costs of existing AR headsets like HoloLens and Magic Leap, which pose a barrier for many to experience mixed reality copresence, with group experiences often exceeding $7,000. HoloKit X offers an affordable, iPhone-based stereoscopic optical see-through AR solution functionally equivalent to HoloLens. By utilizing the iPhone's hardware and software, we provide a cost-effective alternative to expensive AR headsets, featuring 6 degrees of freedom tracking, environmental perception, spatial audio, and AI-powered hand tracking and human objection detection. Priced at just $129, HoloKit X aims to lower the barrier for the public to experience mixed reality for the first time, bringing the shared dream of AR copresence one step closer to reality.
Project Details: HoloKit X: Accessible AR Copresence
Intent and Point of View: Our primary intent with HoloKit X was to create an accessible mixed reality copresence experience that fosters interpersonal interaction and face-to-face engagement, unlocking the true potential of AR technology. We believe that, in line with the motto "A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality," mixed reality copresence can transform the way we interact, learn, and collaborate. However, the high costs associated with existing AR headsets like HoloLens and Magic Leap have been a major barrier to widespread adoption, making it difficult for many to experience mixed reality copresence.
Research and Ethnography: In 2017, we prototyped our first-generation cardboard HoloKit 1 to test the waters and gauge market interest. We launched and open-sourced HoloKit 1, garnering 10,000 users and valuable feedback. Many AR creators expressed the need for an affordable AR device for their projects, as they couldn't afford multiple HoloLens devices for copresence experiences. However, the cardboard version had issues with ergonomics (no headstrap) and poor optical alignment. This feedback led us to develop a premium version with image quality and functionality equivalent to HoloLens while maintaining affordability.
Subject Matter Experts: We consulted with optics experts to develop our Fresnel lens with minimal distortion. Human-computer interaction experts from CMU and HKUST helped us enhance ergonomics, such as designing a headstrap to transfer weight from the forehead to the back of the head. Additionally, computer vision experts guided us in developing precise machine learning-based hand tracking.
Materials Exploration and Technology: Leveraging the iPhone's existing hardware and software capabilities allowed us to create a more affordable AR solution. We used the iPhone's LIDAR Scanner for environmental perception and its display for the optical see-through AR experience. We also incorporated the periscope-shaped design to blend virtual and real-world images seamlessly. To ensure comfort and lightweight design, we used fabrics for the headstrap and lightweight plastic for the headset.
Iteration and Testing:Over the course of five years, we went through numerous testing and iterations to refine HoloKit X. Our product has become much more compact and wearable compared to the first cardboard generation. We tested compatibility with iPhones from the last five years and ensured that the headset fits various head models, from adults to children. This continuous cycle of feedback and refinement allowed us to improve the overall user experience.
Stakeholder Interests: Our project considers a wide range of stakeholder interests, including:
Audience: HoloKit X targets a broad audience, from casual users interested in gaming and entertainment to professionals seeking to leverage AR for collaboration, training, and education.
Businesses: Companies looking to incorporate AR technology in their processes can benefit from HoloKit X's cost-effective solution for training, product visualization, and remote collaboration. Organizations: Educational institutions and non-profit organizations can utilize HoloKit X to provide interactive learning experiences and increase engagement in various activities.
Labor, Manufacturing, and Distribution: We aim to create a sustainable and scalable manufacturing and distribution process, focusing on local production and minimizing environmental impact.
In conclusion, HoloKit X was designed with the goal of democratizing mixed reality copresence experiences by leveraging the power of the iPhone to create a cost-effective, accessible, and immersive solution. Through extensive research, collaboration with experts, iterative design, and user testing, we have developed a product that brings the shared dream of AR copresence closer to reality for a wider audience.