Mind-bending HoloLens project creates illusory portals in time and space

If 2016 saw virtual reality (VR) have its ‘L’arrivée d’un train à La Ciotat’ moment, 2017 could be the year when mixed reality (MR) shocks and awes users with its blend of real and fake worlds.

Case in point: Japanese developers VoxelKei has been doing mind-boggling things with the Microsoft Hololens, creating an application that gives users the impression they are stepping through portals in space and time.

The video above, demonstrating the studio’s “HoloLenz Gate”, shows a user stood in an office, along with three bouncing orbs. A portal – not a million miles from those in the Portal video games – floats in the middle of the room. The user steps through, into what looks to be tiled corridor. The orbs slow down in this new space, before returning to normal speed as the user returns to the office.

The tiled corridor is, in fact, the fake space. It’s difficult to discern the difference in the video, although the illusion would likely be less convincing in reality – as anyone who has tried the HoloLens will tell you, the projection space is only a fraction of what you can see at one time. It’s not clear how this limitation lends itself to the full immersion seen in VoxelKei’s demo.

Another demo shows a user opening holes in a wall like Swiss cheese. Here a distance is kept between the user and the mini-portals, which would make the illusion much easier to maintain given the HoloLen’s current capabilities.

In another video, a user steps through a portal into the sky, miles above Mount Fuji. How this works in practice remains to be seen (surely the user’s peripheral vision remains in the real world), but it gives an interesting glimpse into a possible future where the lines lines between real and imaginary spaces are blurred. Perhaps stepping into convincing, artificial spaces could be become commonplace – although what the hell this will do to a society already losing grip of the barrier between fact and fiction is anyone’s guess.

Main image: @Tomoko7000

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