HoloLens to help bring Japanese national treasure to life with mixed reality


HoloLens and Microsoft Windows logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

While HoloLens is being used by developers and companies alike to create wholly new and interesting experiences, it also has the ability to greatly enhance existing experiences. That's how hakuhodo-VRAR, a Japanese lab specializing in VR and AR technologies, is looking to leverage Microsoft's mixed reality headset to help people learn more about an important cultural artwork.

The team at hakuhodo-VRAR has applied mixed reality technology to The Folding Screen of Fujin and Raijin (Wind God and Thunder God Screens), a seventeenth-century artwork regarded as a national treasure, to help visitors learn more about its artist, Tawaraya Sotatsu, and his motivations. The ten-minute experience combines narration from a Kennin-ji monk with 3D graphics that illustrate what Sotatsu was trying to convey with the work. Microsoft explains:

Viewers will be immersed in a totally new way of experiencing cultural treasures as they are drawn into a dynamic graphic narrative featuring rainclouds alive with lightning and thunder, a lush Earth below, a vast cosmos, and other motifs. The advanced viewing experience also includes 3D renditions of works on the same Fujin and Raijin theme by Ogata Korin, Sakai Hoitsu and other artists of the Rinpa school who were inspired by Tawaraya Sotatsu, enabling viewers to compare the works.

This is a neat example of how HoloLens can be used to modify and enhance things like artworks and cultural artifacts in order to bring their stories to life. The mixed reality exhibit will be open to the public at the Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto's oldest Zen temple, from February 22 through February 24. It will also be on display at the Kyoto National Museum from February 28 through March 2.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl