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You might be able to see through walls with the Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft started taking pre-orders for the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition earlier this week. It also released a guide for making apps that will work on the augmented reality headset, and it has yielded a lot of previously unrevealed information on the HoloLens and its app.

Windows Central forum member "NikolausD" went through the guide and posted up a lot of its highlights in a post on our forums. One of the most interesting is the fact that wearers of the HoloLens might be able to see through walls:

"Since the device knows your space even when it can't see all parts of it from your current angle, it can potentially show you - or hint at - real or virtual objects that are behind a wall in another room, behind a closed door, or under a desk, by providing you with an x-ray-vision type of view. That way you could not only hear, but also see a notification going off in another room, or see enemies approaching around the corner in a game."

Another interesting tidbit is that the HoloLens owner will see the entire room as a "Start screen" for opening apps. It begins by the HoloLens scanning a room and its objects:

" Now you can bring up the Start menu by doing the "blooming" hand gesture and select an app. This doesn't open the app yet - it just gives you a little tile or 3D object that serves as a launch point for that app, and you put it anywhere you want in your room. From now on that app sits there permanently, until you move it to another spot or remove it. (Sadly, those tiles don't support live tile functionality at this point). That way you can fill your room, or your entire apartment, with apps, and you can put multiple instances of the same app on different spots within your place - so you can have a video player in your bedroom AND your kitchen. "

Another unrevealed bit of info is that there cannot be any holographic apps that are dark or black in color, as those app will appear to be transparent to the HoloLens user.

Thanks again to NikolausD from our forums for the tip!

Check out the Microsoft Windows Holographic guide (opens in new tab)

50 Comments
  • How many walls? How does it know when to stop and which room to show?
  • Probably since it has studied all the space where you use it and has stored what you pin where. Im assuming it would show a latest memory of what other side of wall would look like. Not actually an "x-ray" but what it looks like on the other side and what have you pinned there in other room and stuff. Again this is just conjecture.
  • The device builds a complete map of the environment using depth sensors and updates it at every opportunity with what the sensors can see. ​This is very similar to Kinect Fusion, every depth frame improves the existing model of that area, or fixes data that is too old (furniture and people that have moved since then). The system can store models of several geographical locations by attaching them to BSSIDs (WiFi networks), so it can work in several appartments, offices, etc... and automatically retrieve the previous maps. The app only receives the mesh of a bubble of a few meters around the headset, just enough to position holograms and interact with the real world.
    If an app needs more info, such as the whole room in a large room, it seems it has to cache the data by itself even though the system probably has a more complete model. This means games that make you move in the room looking for clues for example would have to make you walk around the room before starting as it cannot ask the system for its internal map and has to build its own copy.
    This could be designed to make sure the app does not rely on out of date data that has long changed since it was integrated in the model. The shell on the other hand obviously can use the more complete model and uses it to keep apps pinned even in other rooms and other geographical locations.
  • yikes! I cannot take a shower anymore, guess I'll have to build an underground bunker. Posted via Universal Windows App on W10
  • This is just a capability of the device that was mentioned in the developer guide. It's not implemented into the system UI in any way. but due to the device's understanding of your space, developers can create experiences where real and/or virtual objects are visually indicated to the user, even if there's a wall in between. How exactly that would be implemented is up to the developer of course. If you want to know more about how hololens understands spaces, read my form post or the source from Microsoft.
  • Can't wait for IRL nude mods.  
  • Come home to Lucy Lawless all ready as a hologram when you get home? why not
  • I told you, I'm not Xena, I'm Lucy Lawless!
  • Lol, Futurama❗
  • Thats the simpsons.
  • You would have to stalk her in order for the sensors to scan her, sorry out of luck.
  • Interesting, would love to see how it turns up.
  • If that actually works. Gaming in that thing would be the best thing ever. **** VR.
  • Can't firgure out why people keep comparing this to VR. They are two very different things, with 2 very different applications.
  • Ike. That's why I said **** VR. Because everyone keeps comparing the 2. Even on pocket now daily he was saying how expensive HoloLens is compared to the HTC vive.
  • This is better than vr lololol
  • Why did a get thumbs down. I was not comparing this to VR I'm say F VR because of how much people are hyped over it.
  • @Dwane18. Maybe you used a profanity (although it is censored out)? :P To be honest, may be they just skimmed through and thought you were comparing the two as opposed to showing the proverbial finger (in this context the middle finger) to VR.
  • I think that's exactly what they did. Why would I even compare this to VR. I may be a fool, but I'm not an idiot :D
  • I think that's exactly what they did. Why would I even compare this to VR. I may be a fool, but I'm not an idiot :D
  • @Dwane18. Haha.
  • You mean I can see through ANYTHING? Hell yes!
  • What about through clothes?
  • When you become Clark Kent..
  • Star Trek TNG
    Counselor Deanna Troi: Geordie, is that a new visor?
    Lt. Geordie LaForge: (drooling) uhh.... Yes... Yes, it is.
  • And.... "Windows" Central doesn't have an unit of their own... Expect it to be coming soon ™
  • @Ricardo Dawkins, Hmm, care to donate 3,000 dollars? :P  
  • But FOV should be improved. Come on Microsoft u can do it.
  • Yeah Im worried about the FOV too.  
  • As I asked someone a few days ago - since you are such an expert and have had extensive hands on experience with HoloLense, please describe to us in great detail about how the FOV is not so good when you use the device that you own.  
  • Rest assured, the FOV will become wider in follow on versions.  They need to leave something for version 2 and 3 that will get people to throw version 1 in the trash and buy a new one.  Marketing geneous!!!
  • I think you mean to be over at iMore, where they discuss Apple. Microsoft doesn't do that.
  • Soon.
  • Hmm and on next door I have a neighbor oh my gosh
  • And u need a licence for this peeping ****
  • What?
  • I'm not sure you quite grasped what it does and how it works. Posted via my HTC One M7
  • To clarify a misleading click bait title..... No, HoloLens can not see through walls. Yes, the software developer can generate an image to make it appear that you are seeing through a wall.  However, the image rendered would be based on a historical mapping of the actual other room.  Or it could be simulated image such as that of a game view into another dimention or NFL Player bursting through the wall with the stadium visible behind the player and through the wall. In other words, you can not see a live view of what is occuring in another room through a wall.  Unless, of course, there is a camera feed from the other room that you can use in your app. (Perhaps camera feeds from people wearing HoloLens in the other room?) As far as gaming goes, the ability to see through a wall in a game is simply up to the game developer.  Nothing special about HoloLens.  Call of Duty could provide such a feature in their Xbox game.  The entire 3D world is known to the computer.  However, in order for HoloLens to show your actual human enemy, such as might be the case with a lazer tag game with many people, it would have to know the location of the enemy.  In other words, the enemy would need to be reporting its location to a server or wifi/blutooth where all of the other  HoloLens's would then read it.  Painting the body in the proper stance behind the wall would need additional information. I think we are a very long way from perfecting that senerio. If Microsoft wants HoloLens to take off, they need to quadruple their investment.  Otherwise, I am affraid that it is going to whither on the vine like many of their other ingenious and innovative products.    
  • Why do people keep complaining about click bait? And seriously, it's always up to developers to make everything happen. Microsoft made the tech and the OS, developers will get creative with it and do some really cool stuff like letting you see through walls (even if it's just a picture or a camera feed, it's still insanely cool) Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • This diatribe is a result of your extensive hands on experience of course. Thanks for nothing.
  • Easy: linkable units like most handheld game consoles
  • I was referring to virtual enemies, obviously.
  • My vision of gaming with hololens is to extend screen to life size (Halo, COD) stretch 180 degree curve not flat. Use controller, sitting on a couch. "As far as gaming goes, the ability to see through a wall in a game is simply up to the game developer.  Nothing special about HoloLens.  Call of Duty could provide such a feature in their Xbox game.  The entire 3D world is known to the computer. ​"  
  • Awesome. Hololens is a game changer, this will be huge. Gaming is a plus, I see this being massive in commercial applications
  • So scan your whole house then mark specific objects as important. You mark your TV remote or keys and when ever you lose them, Hololens can show you where in your house they were seen last by showing it highlighted in another room, etc. Hey that would be useful at least lol.
  • Oh I love the future Posted via the Windows Central Beta App for my Lumia 950 XL
  • If hololens can see through clothes, I'll give MS my $3000!
  • Anything of that sort would inevitably encourage all manner of lecherous behaviour... ugh.
  • all i want is the ability to augment its battery and processing power, so that I can get a larger FOV
  • W10 update for Nokia Lumia 520 when?
    I m bored with 8.1