Have You Seen This?: HoloTerrain Lets HoloLens Users Explore the Earth in 3D

After what appeared to be an issue with the Windows Store for HoloLens not showing many newer applications, including one that I had released over a month ago, Microsoft finally squashed the bug. So, at first glance, it would seem as if there were lots of new HoloLens projects that just appeared in the store, even though they've likely been hiding out there for a while. HoloTerrain is one of those apps.

HoloTerrain

HoloTerrain, a free HoloLens app by Dangling Concepts, lets users select the terrain anywhere on earth and see it visualized fully in three dimensions. Similar to a holographic version of Google Earth, it offers a variety of both user interface and voice commands to navigate around a specific location or move around the planet.

Imran Shafiq of Dangling Concepts, who is known for other HoloLens projects such as HoloTankz, Holo Raid, and his work on VAR Football, recently added the ability for multiple people to use HoloTerrain simultaneously in the 2.1.0.0 update. Developers may be impressed to know that he did not use the holographic sharing from the HoloToolkit to accomplish this. Instead, he used Unity Networking, a difficult task, in my experience.

Pros:

  • Great quality map rendering.
  • Most of the controls are easy to use.
  • The cascading transitions when changing maps are great effects.
  • Being able to use this with four people seems like a great addition.
  • The ability to scale the entire map to your room size.

Con:

  • Changing cities to something that is not one of the presets is a bit of a pain. The keyboard that appears is not easy to navigate. I found that when I was trying to select a key, the color indicating a selected key was too subtle and the angle was awkward.

With a similar scope to Taqtile's HoloMaps, focusing on the terrain gives it a different twist. This type of land and terrain visualization sparks many potential ideas for uses. Imagine land developers eventually plotting out projects completely in an augmented reality environment one day. Or, movie teams scouting filming locations virtually, finding the right spots for particular shots before ever stepping foot on the soil. Just think of the money saved.

Images by HoloTerrain/Windows Store

For you fledgling HoloLens developers out there, it is also worth pointing out that Dangling Concepts is a single person, developing part-time for the HoloLens. So keep your chin up—it just takes hard work. Let Imran and his collection of projects inspire you to dig in and finish that idea you'v been toying with.

How many HoloLens projects have you completed so far? How many have you started but never finished? Let us know in the comments below.

Cover image by HoloTerrain/Windows Store

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