Through the looking glass: Adventures with the Hololens

This blogpost has been a long time coming. I have meant to write about our ongoing Hololens developments for some time. I wanted to start by saying, even after over a year with the Hololens, it still really excites me over all of the other VR/AR technology currently available. Since I last posted we have purchased three more Hololens. This expansion was to enable multi-user experiences, something which I think makes the Hololens and AR stand out from VR in a classroom environment. These extra Hololens have helped me to work on two fascinating projects; Spectator-view and Share Reality view, both utilizing multiple units.

Spectator-View

We have had the Hololens for over a year now and only have one video demonstrating it. This is due to how difficult it is to record the AR via the Hololens. Microsoft thought of this and created Spectator-View. The spectator-view allows you to plug in a digital camera and Hololens into a computer and stitch together the images from both. This means you can record the Hololens at much higher resolution. But to do this, you need a second Hololens and a mount to hold it onto the digital camera. So second Hololens, check, Hololens mount, check (see the picture, I 3D printed one over the summer). Now came the hard part. Although Microsoft has created the software for Spectator-View, they don’t package it up in a nice easy application. You have to build it yourself via the source code. After a few hours of debugging, I finally got all of the required applications working. This is our current setup.

top view of Hololens on plastic mount
Hololens sitting on 3d printed mount

I am looking forward to making some new Hololens videos.

Share Reality view

The second package I have been working on is a shared reality experience where the users get to explore an archaeology site, Bryn Celli Ddu, and its associated data. Similar to the spectator view, Share Reality allows each Hololens user to see the same hologram within the same space. This will enable us to create shared experiences, for teaching this is a vital tool. Being able to all see and interact with the same object within in the same space. This adds a whole new level to AR allowing for more social interaction, not isolating the user in their own `realities’ like VR or single user experiences.

This share reality experience was demoed at GIS day.

Randy’s Spring 2018 Update

This Spring Term I’ll spend a great deal of my time ensuring that all the scientific instruments in the natural sciences are running as expected. The move from Mudd Hall caused a lot of disruption to the communication between instruments and computers. The spring term is just one small step before summer research begins and I want to ensure that things go smoothly.

I’ll also continue my work with the College’s Mobile App Development group. I call it MAD! There is no official name for the group yet but I hope my nickname for it sticks! We are working on a process so that anyone interested in making a mobile app for their teaching or research knows how to proceed. I’m hopeful Spring Term will allow me more time to help faculty develop their app ideas and possibly even publish a working mobile app.

One of my other projects is working on LabArchives (LA). LA is an online Electronic Lab Notebook that was designed to replace the traditional paper lab notebook within the science communities. But that has all change now that Juliane Schicker, Assistant Professor of German, broke through the disciplinary boundaries and began using LA in her teaching! I’m hoping to use the example of Juliane to spread the word across the curriculum that there is an easier way to manage lab notebooks and student journaling.

I’ll spend some time this spring learning more about the MakerSpaces housed about campus. I currently learning about Blendor and Inventor software packages for 3D printing. Knowing these two packages will help with future 3D printing needs.

Finally, moving the scientists wasn’t the only move I had going! I moved my family to a new house over winter break and most of January. I must be crazy to move in the coldest time of the year but some of you know that I like to do things the hard way. This move included two adults, two kids, one parent, two dogs, five cats, two businesses and because I am a tinkerer LOTS of shop “stuff”!

So it begins… 3D Printing in the IdeaLab

Carleton's newest 3D printer: Ultimaker2+ 3D Printer

As the students return to Carleton and campus life resumes in earnest, you may notice some changes in the IdeaLab and the AT offices in the Weitz Center for Creativity (not to mention the massive construction project just outside…). The IdeaLab has been undergoing renovations and redesigns to better serve the whole community. We’ll be writing another post about that whole process, but for this post I’ll be focusing on one of our newest tools: our 3D printer. This post will also focus primarily on our initial prints, rather than how-tos, but those will also be coming in the future.

After a lot of consideration, talking with experts, and looking at samples, we decided to go with an Ultimaker2+, one of the most highly-regarded 3D printers on the market. It’s a very dependable, well-supported machine, and looks fantastic too.

Our new 3D printer! #ifyoubuildittheywillcome #wehavethetechnology #ultimaker2 #filementaryMyDearWatson

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As part of the initial set-up, we needed to calibrate and configure the machine. This took a few hours, as the build plate (the section that the 3D printer prints onto) needs to be perfectly level. This level of specificity goes beyond the standard bubble level; we were dealing with differences in size of less than the thickness of a piece of computer paper. With our filament loaded and the plate leveled, we printed our first test print: a little robot designed by Ultimaker.

The first 3D print from our new 3D printer (an Ultimaker2+) #3dprinting #ultimaker2 #idealab

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With our 3D printer working, we decided to test another file directly from Ultimaker, a little heart keychain.

We ❤ our new 3D printer! #3dprinting #heartintherightplace #ultimaker2

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After that success, Andrew had me get a large file off of Thingiverse to print. Thingiverse is an online community where people upload 3D files for others to download, modify, and print. It can be a rabbithole for time, as there is so much incredible content available to browse and look through. I ended up choosing an owl pen holder. You can see it on Thingiverse by clicking here. This was addicting to watch the 3D printer layer up piece by piece, so we set up our timelapse camera to shoot the print. Check it out below! (For reference, this five-inch-tall owl took about 27 hours to print, as each layer is less than the width of a human hair in thickness.)

Here’s what the final product looks like. It’s surprisingly sturdy and solid.

"Who" loves 3D printing…? We do! #giveahoot #3dprinting #ultimaker2 #hoursoffun #punstoppable

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Stay tuned for more posts about the IdeaLab, our 3D printer, and more!