Creating a Killer Trade Fair Presence Using Microsoft HoloLens

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TL:DR;

THE CHALLENGE

Tasked with using mixed reality to demonstrate Selligent’s unique value proposition, we set to work on the small challenge (haha^^) of building Europe’s first shared holographic experience to allow participants to playfully get to know Selligent's unique benefits, with the plan to debut it at the Dmexco 2016 trade fair in Germany. Check out the highlights below:

THE BEGINNING

Firstly, we outlined the requirements for the project. We analysed Selligent’s awesome web-based campaign building tool and identified the main elements: 

We decided to create a shared holographic experience to guide users through the experience of building a campaign, visually. The shared aspect means that multiple users can see the same holograms and interact with them.

THE JOURNEY

Firstly, we built a single user experience and imported Selligent’s campaign elements: 

We decided to employ a grid system to ensure that the campaigns always looked visually attractive – it may look simple, but aligning objects in a 3D space freely while looking nice is no easy feat!

Secondly, we begun implementing the shared holographic functionality. This was a challenge. 

As part of their HoloToolkit library, Microsoft provides a basic framework, but using this would require us to hardcode the IP addresses of all devices into the app, meaning that if we restarted a device we would have to recompile all of its apps. Not only that, we would have had to have a local server running in the wifi to handle the data exchange – another risk. 

Since the plan was to present it at the Dmexco, we knew from experience that with 8 hours of continuous demos, herein lied a challenge.

Interest about the app was already rising, with Dominic from The Register taking a sneak peak :)

Our solution was to improve upon Microsoft’s code and create our own library. This allowed us to not only use a HoloLens as the local server, but also allowed the client and host devices to detect each other automatically over Wifi.

We delivered the final version one week before Dmexco and Gerhard (image below) immediately fell in love with it.

DMEXCO - THE DAY BEFORE OF BATTLE

In the run up to Dmexo, we started to get ready, polishing off the stand and testing, testing, testing. After an intense day that reached its crescendo at midnight, we finished our tests and got ourselves some sleep before the big day.

DMEXCO - THE FIRST DAY OF BATTLE

Armed with 4 HoloLenses, we were ready to debut the fantastic world of Selligent’s mixed reality Campaign Builder to Dmexco.

We had a few teething problems: the number of Wifi networks increased overnight, meaning that our devices lost their connection and became desynced. However, we didn’t waste time – we drove to the nearest electronics market and bought the strongest router available.

With this quick fix, the day was saved and the experience started going smoothly. 

We put through 110 (!) participants in the first day, setting the bar high for the second :)

DMEXCO - THE FINAL DAY OF BATTLE

Pumped, ready and loaded, we improved overnight on the check-in app. We noticed that the app didn’t like German Umlauts, but it was no sweat – a quick fix with percent encoding solved the problem.

With the aim of beating yesterday’s record, we started with all 3 HoloLenses in tandem, meaning that two users were able to experience HoloCampaign at the same time. Seeing two people stuck in awe was an amazing and rewarding picture for the team. 

We thought it would be a clever idea to open close the main menu using voice commands. However, it transpires that if you do 4 hours straight of demonstrations and need to shout against the trade fair noise, it starts to give you a little bit of a sore throat. Perhaps not the best idea for the future, we remarked...

To allow participants to share their holographic experience (taking a simple photo is not enough as our super cool holograms wouldn’t be visible), we created a check-in and social app. Participants left their details and received a photo of them with the holograms – allowing them to make friends and colleagues jealous.

All in all, the participants really enjoyed the experience and got to know playfully the unique benefits of Selligent.

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