News: Microsoft HoloLens 2 & Unity Used to Highlight the Threat to Endangered Whales at the Smithsonian

Microsoft HoloLens 2 & Unity Used to Highlight the Threat to Endangered Whales at the Smithsonian

Although the enterprise use cases for the Microsoft HoloLens 2 continue to impress, the arts community just can't stay away from the best augmented reality headset on the market.

The latest example comes from a new exhibit that highlights one of Earth's most powerful but vulnerable sea creatures: orca whales.

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The exhibit, which is called "Critical Distance," is being hosted by the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Image via Vision3

The team behind the new immersive experience includes Hollywood veteran studio Vision3 along with support directly from Microsoft.

Using the Unity development platform, the team managed to create an AR experience that puts you within a virtual sea as near life-sized orcas realistically swim around you.

Image via Vision3

But unlike other AR experiences, which are generally passive, the HoloLens 2 and its hand tracking features allow you to virtually touch the orcas, delivering visual feedback whenever you do, thus making the immersive experience that much more realistic.

Part of the immersive story takes you into the struggles of a family of orca, led by one named Kiki, as they fight to survive the perils faced by many species of ocean life.

Before becoming a part of the Smithsonian's offerings, "Critical Distance" debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, where it was nominated for one of the event's Immersive Storyscapes award. The experience was written by Amy Zimmerman and directed by Chris Campkin and Adam May.

Image via Vision3

Although many creators are focused on developing for widely available mobile AR platforms, this new experience is yet more proof that, when you truly want to push the limits of AR, the HoloLens 2, in this case, paired with the Unity platform, is best in class.

The AR experience opened this week and will run at the Smithsonian until spring 2022.

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Cover image via Vision3

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